KR tribunal to hear Muth appeals

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The KRT will hear appeals against the dismissal and closing order delivered by the International Co-Investigating last year for Case 003 involving Meas Muth. Heng Chivoan

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will in late November hear appeals from the National Co-Prosecutor and Co-Lawyers, as well as from the International Co-Prosecutor in Case 003 against Meas Muth, a former Khmer Rouge naval commander.

The National Co-Prosecutor and Co-Lawyers are appealing against the closing order delivered by the International Co-Investigating Judge on November 18 last year.

The International Co-Prosecutor is appealing the order dismissing the case against Muth delivered by the National Co-Investigating Judge, also on November 18.

Both appeals were lodged on April 8 this year.

The ECCC, also known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal (KRT), said on Thursday that the chamber would hear arguments from the parties in Case 003 before it issued its decision on the appeals. The hearing would take place on November27-29.

“The National Co-Prosecutor, the International Co-Prosecutor and the National and International Co-Lawyers for the charged person will be given the floor to present their arguments.

“The charged person, if present, shall be given the opportunity to make a personal statement at the end of the hearing. Once the hearing is concluded, the pre-trial chamber will adjourn to deliberate on its decision,” the tribunal said.

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ECCC comprises three national and two international judges. As the appellate chamber, it can hear motions and appeals against orders and decisions issued by the co-investigating judges.

The hearing will be held in public for the introduction, the report on the case by the bench and the questions by the judges to the parties, the ECCC said. The rest of the hearing will be filmed.

“The Pre-Trial chamber of the ECCC is [to hear] the appeals lodged by the National Co-Prosecutor and the Co-Lawyers for Meas Muth on April 5 and April 8, respectively, against the closing order delivered by the International Co-Investigating Judge on November 28, 2018 in Case 003, and the appeal lodged by the International Co-Prosecutor on April 8 against the order dismissing the case against Meas Muth delivered by the National Co-Investigating Judge on November 28, 2018, in Case 003,” the ECCC said.

Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said the disagreements between the national and international judges stemmed from the interpretation of the law and the determining of evidence.

“If it looked at the legality and procedural evidence, it would not be difficult for the pre-trial chamber to make a judgement.

“We need to rely on evidence when making a decision. The provision of justice must be done absolutely based on legal and procedural principles,” Youk said.

Muth was charged with murder, crimes against humanity and war crimes and placed under judicial supervision in absentia on March 3, 2015.

The developments in Case 003 came two weeks after the KRT sentenced Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity in Case 002.

“The Co-Investigating Judges issued two separate closing orders . . . due to a disagreement about whether Meas Muth is subject to the ECCC’s personal jurisdiction as a senior leader or one of the persons most responsible for crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.

“The National Co-Investigating Judge is of the view that Meas Muth does not fall under the ECCC’s personal jurisdiction under either category and dismisses the case against Meas Muth for that reason,” the tribunal said on November 28.

The National Co-Investigating Judge said that “based on available evidence, it is doubtful that Meas Muth was a deputy in the General Staff”.

“If this was true, he held such position only for a month before the fall of the Democratic Kampuchea regime in January 1979. He was not a member of the Central Committee, but merely an assistant member without the right to vote on important decisions.”

However, the summary of the International Co-Investigating Judge, stated: “The International Co-Investigating Judge found that the ECCC has personal jurisdiction over Meas Muth as one of the persons most responsible for the crimes committed during the regime of Democratic Kampuchea.”

It said Muth was “responsible for a number of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and domestic crimes . . . and organised and held oversight for worksites and security centres in Kampong Som [now Preah Sihanouk province]”.

Muth’s son Meas Pheak on Sunday said his father, who was living in Battambang province’s Samlot district, was experiencing bouts of ill-health due to his age.

“I don’t know [about the Khmer Rouge tribunal] because I live far away from him,” he said. “He is at home in Samlot district. He is old. Some days he is in good health; other days he is sick,” Pheak said.