Thursday, 01 March 2012
Bridget Di Certo
The Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian judges and officers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal are continuing to block civil party applicants from participating in the government-opposed cases 003 and 004, while international judges continue to base their decisions on civil party rights in spurring the two cases forward.
Outspoken Khmer Rouge victim advocate Theary Seng was yesterday rejected by default as a civil party in controversial cases 003 and 004 after Pre-Trial Chamber judges issued lengthy considerations but could not reach a consensus on her case.
Cambodian judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber said there were no relevant suspects in the cases as no one had been charged and so rejected Theary Seng’s appeal to be granted civil party status. “Errors committed” by then Co-Investigating Judge Siegfried Blunk and his Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng, whom rejected Theary Seng’s civil party application, were so grievous as to render any determination of the application “unfair”, they said.
Due to a failure to agree, the rejection of Theary Seng’s civil party application stood. Theary Seng has previously denounced the court as a “sham” and attempted to cease all participation in proceedings.
International judges Rowan Downing and Katinka Lahuis noted in their decision that the co-investigating judges still had discretion to grant Theary Seng civil party status, as UN-nominated reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet had with New Zealand civil party Rob Hamill.
However, lawyers for Hamill said in a press release yesterday that despite Kasper-Ansermet granting their client civil party status, Cambodians court officials have blocked their access to the case file in Case 003 on the basis that the national side of the court does not recognise Kasper-Ansermet’s authority.
The lawyers called the action “a stealthy attempt to override the decision of Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet” as there had been no public information released that the national side of the court would not recognise any decisions of Kasper-Ansermet.