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Difference in Tribunal Civil, Criminal Cases Explained

As trials for former Khmer Rouge leaders approach, the difference between civil and criminal cases will become an important distinction for victims, a tribunal expert said Wednesday.

Victims must know they can file a complaint to prosecutors for a criminal case and to the investigating judges for civil suits, including for compensation, said Hisham Mousar, a legal expert for the rights group Adhoc.

"Complaint to the co-prosecutor is easier, but [to issue] a complaint to the co-investigating judges is a tough one," he said. "A complaint to the prosecutor is just to help put more weight to the charges against a defendant."

For victims, civil cases can be more meaningful, but also more complicated, than criminal cases, he said. The tribunal had received only one civil case through Oct. 26, he said. But it had received more than 200 criminal complaints, from the Cham Muslim community.

Adhoc has received 10 civil complaints, with 10 more expected in November, he said. The group will review those cases and may refer them to the courts.

Meanwhile, the tribunal still has not done enough to educate the general public on how to file complaints, he said.

Victims should not expect to get money themselves following a civil case, but they could see money come into their communities, in the form of school projects, roads and other public infrastructure, he said. Individuals will be recognized by history as victims of the regime.