Seventeen Cambodians and 13 foreigners will serve as judges and prosecutors in a long-awaited trial for surviving leaders of the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime, the United Nations-assisted Cambodian tribunal announced officially Monday.
Military Court Presiding Judge Ney Thol, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge Thong Ol, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Ya Sakhon and Battambang Provincial Court Chief Nil Non were among the Cambodian legal officials appointed to the court.
VOA Khmer reported Thursday that the four were among the Cambodian appointees, along with a list of the other Cambodians and foreigners named to the court. A list of the Cambodian and international judges and prosecutors, including reserves, is included on this website.
International and Cambodian legal experts and political commentators have long expressed concern about the ability of the Cambodian court system to host relatively free, fair and just proceedings.
Political justice is routinely handed down by judges across Cambodia, according to human rights workers, legal reform advocates and opposition party members.
The country is still recovering from years of civil strife and suffers from an economy that is stagnant for the vast majority of its 13 million citizens.
An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died of disease, starvation, or execution during the 1975 to 1979 rule of a communist regime led by Pol Pot. No one has been convicted of atrocities during that period.
Sok Sam Oeurn, longtime director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, an NGO that aims to provide legal assistance to the poor, said Monday that additional training about international law and fundamental legal principles based on fairness and justice would help the Cambodian appointees participate actively and efficiently in the trial’s proceedings.
Sok Sam Oeurn said that the Cambodian appointees should resign from political parties and be well-paid to help ensure independence and minimize the chance for corruption and political manipulation.
The work of the tribunal’s prosecutor’s office is expected to begin in the next month or two. Trial proceedings are hoped to be under way by the end of next year, tribunal officials have said.