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Victim's Group Awaits Tribunal Acceptance of Complaint

Article Correction: The Aug. 15 article misinterpreted the words of the Committee of the Khmer Rouge Victims. Marie-Felicite Sambath, who is 73, prepared a complaint that so far has not been accepted by the Khmer Rouge tribunal.These corrections have been entered into the text of the story.

The Committee of the Khmer Rouge Victims is pushing the Khmer Rouge tribunal to accept a complaint prepared by one of Cambodia's highest-profile victims, the group said Wednesday.

Marie-Felicite Sambath, 73, has prepared a complaint against the leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime for suffering the loss of her husband—an ambassador for former prince Norodom Sihnaouk's government—daughter, mother and sister.

Sambath has so far been unable to convince the tribunal to formally accept the complaint, opening questions on how individual victims should seek justice for suffering on such a mass scale.

Sambath claims her husband was killed in the infamous torture prison, Tuol Sleng, which was overseen by Kaing Khev Iev, alias Duch, the only person to so far be indicted by special courts of the tribunal.

The prosecutor's office has so far not accepted Sambath's complaint, said Chhay Hok Pheng, a member of the Committee of the Khmer Rouge Victims who led a delegation to Cambodia recently. The Committee has been unable to file the complaint.

He would like to file up to 45 similar suits, he said.

"This push is to find justice for the victims, and they will be able to express their pain and make their demands legally," he said. "We would like to see immediate trial."

The rules of the Khmer Rouge tribunal do allow for so-called "civil party actions," in which victims are entitled to file such suits.

A special Victim's Unit was created on paper when the rules were adopted earlier this year, allowing victims as a unit to receive "moral reparations."

So far, however, the Victim's Unit has not been formed.

UN prosecutor Robert Petit said that under Cambodian law, when any individual officially files a complaint, the prosecutor has a duty to respond on whether they will act on it.