High profile Canadian lawyer returns to ECCC

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A hearing at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in June, 2022. ECCC

Falguni Debnath of Canada has been appointed as the new international Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, from August 29.

According to the ECCC’s August 15 press release, Debnath will replace Megan Hirst, who resigned on June 30.

It said Debnath has over 20 years of litigation experience, having represented the Attorney-General of Canada in litigation related to sexual assaults and mass tort cases with thousands of victims.

She previously served as executive legal officer at Canada’s largest appellate court, providing executive leadership and legal services, as well as senior assistant prosecutor at the ECCC, according to the release. Most recently, Debnath served as the associate deputy minister and executive director of a Commission of Inquiry in Ontario investigating a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project.

ECCC spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Debnath will work with Cambodian Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Pich Ang during proceedings in case 002/02.

He said the two co-leads will ensure the effective organisation of the representation of civil parties who are victims of crimes within the ECCC jurisdiction who may join the proceedings and pursue claims for moral and collective reparations.

The co-lawyers’ core responsibilities include representing the interests of the consolidated group of civil parties, overall advocacy, strategy and in-court presentation of the interests of the civil parties in close conjunction with individual civil party lawyers, according to Pheaktra.