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Group Pushes for More Investigations, Indictments at Tribunal

DC-Cam documents, a testimony of Democratic Kampuchea's regime of genocide.

DC-Cam documents, a testimony of Democratic Kampuchea's regime of genocide.

A group of ethnic minorities has filed with the Khmer Rouge tribunal, in hopes that more indictments will come from the UN-backed court.

Members of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom group, a Khmer minority living in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and Cambodia, say they want a chance to confront suspects named in two other cases that have stalled at the court.

“They want to help support the investigation and to reveal evidence to the co-investigating judges to indict or continue legal procedures in the cases 003 and 004,” said Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Minority Rights Organization. His organization had received 50 complaints already, he said.

Those two cases have stalled from political pressure, as the financially troubled court moves toward the completion of only its second trial, against two aging leaders of the regime, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

Critics doubt the court has the capacity to follow through with the four more indictments from prosecutors that the Khmer Krom group is seeking.

A fifth suspect in those cases, Sou Meth, died in June, adding to fears that former Khmer Rouge leaders are aging and may not see the inside of a courtroom.

Tan Visal, coordinator for the tribunal’s Victim Support Unit, said new and old complaints were being added to a database.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra, said cases 003 and 004 are still under investigation, though the international and Cambodia offices of investigating judges do not view them identically.

The Cambodian side has deemed the investigations completed, while the international side is seeking further investigation.

The new complaints come as a US investigating judge, Mark Harmon, has begun work at the tribunal.

Harmon, who became the third judge to head the international office in only nine months, has sought to pursue the cases further, despite opposition from leading Cambodian officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, and amid allegations of obstruction from the Cambodian side of the court.

Meanwhile, the tribunal is expecting to issue a verdict on the first phase in the trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, in the middle of 2014, and hopes to begin the second, final phase of the trial thereafter.

The fates of cases 003 and 004 after those proceedings remain unclear.