Dissent Reported Among Tribunal Investigators

UN sending delegation of human resources officers

Between UN and Cambodian officers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, disagreements over whom to prosecute and which allegations to investigate have been pub­lic knowledge since 2008.

However, there is an increasing amount of information tending to indicate that such disagreements are now taking place internally among the team of judicial investigators on the court’s UN side who are charged with the handling of cases opposed by the government.

Since taking office in December, Co-Investigating Judge Siegfried Blunk’s actions have been consistent with the government view that the court’s additional cases, which concern allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, should not be pursued.

This has put him at odds with his own investigators and legal ana­­lysts, according to people outside the UN with knowledge of the investigating judges’ activities.

UN human resources officers were due to visit the Khmer Rouge tribunal this week for meetings with court officials, including judicial investigators.

Clint Williamson, the American prosecutor who was selected last year as a liaison on court affairs for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was also due to arrive this week for talks with court and government officials, as well as representatives of the nations supporting the court financially.

Lars Olsen, the court’s legal communications officer, did not directly respond to questions concerning Judge Blunk’s reported communications with New York or the possibility of dissent among investigators.

He described the visit by human resources experts as a “normal response” to internal staffing issues.

“The delegation’s visit is a normal response by UN headquarters to internal staffing issues, big and small, that arise from time to time in UN field missions,” Mr Olsen wrote in an e-mail. “As is also normal, we do not intend to comment further on the delegation’s work.”

Judge Blunk and Judge You Bunleng, his Cambodian counterpart, have reportedly agreed to dismiss cases 003 and 004 after minimal investigations.

Since concluding one case last month without questioning any suspects, Judges Blunk and Bunleng have engaged in a very public disagreement with the British prosecutor Andrew Cayley, who has called for charges, witness interviews and crime scene investigations.

Mr Cayley is now appealing against last week’s order by Judges Blunk and Bunleng, who ordered him to retract a public statement of May 9.

The court’s Pre-Trial Chamber, which is seized of the matter, was unable to rule in 2008, with its three Cambodian judges siding against opening cases 003 and 004 and the two international judges supporting them.

Should such divisions recur in Mr Cayley’s appeal, then the co-investigating judges’ censure of him last week may be allowed to stand.

In a statement released yesterday, Ksem Ksan, the association of victims of Democratic Kampuchea whose members include noted survivors of internment at Tuol Sleng, reiterated its support for “detailed investigation with transparency” of cases 003 and 004.

 

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