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Khmer Rouge Court Throws Out Case Against Im Chaem, Prompting Criticism


Im Chaem, a former Khmer Rouge regional commander, in a picture with Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, February 13, 2012. (Courtesy of Documentation of Cambodia)

Im Chaem, a former Khmer Rouge regional commander, in a picture with Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, February 13, 2012. (Courtesy of Documentation of Cambodia)

The international prosecutor, however, contended that she had played a key role in criminal acts that led to the deaths of thousands of Cambodians.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has dropped its case against Im Chaem, a former district governor in the Democratic Kampuchea regime that ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

In a statement on Wednesday, the court said that co-investigating judges Yu Bunleng and Michael Bohlander had chosen to dismiss the case due to a lack of evidence that would lead her to fall within the court’s jurisdiction.

Due to logistics and budget restrictions, the judges decided to issue an initial statement outlining their reasoning now, before issuing a fuller explanation at a later date.

Civil party applications related to Chaem’s case will also be rejected.

Neth Pheaktra, tribunal spokesman, said there was no pressure from the government to drop the case.

“Both national and international judges implemented their work professionally, and the outcome from the evaluation came from questioning witnesses as well as other documents,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has in the past spoken out against further cases being launched by the court, even likening the potential fallout of such a move as a provocation that could lead to civil war.

The court has so far prosecuted three former Khmer Rouge leaders, the regime’s second-in-command, Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, and the head of the S-21 security center, Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch.

Latt Ky, a court monitor with local rights group Adhoc, said he regretted the decision not to pursue further action against Chaem.

“We regret for the dismissal of the case because most of the victims are seeking justice; particularly, the victims who used to live in areas and scopes that were the responsibly and directly controlled by Im Chaem,” he said.

The prosecutors previously expressed disagreement over the jurisdiction of the court to try Chaem, with the Cambodian prosecutor arguing that she was not one of the most responsible leaders of the regime.

The international prosecutor, however, contended that she had played a key role in criminal acts that led to the deaths of thousands of Cambodians.

Chaem has consistently denied the allegations.

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