The international prosecutor’s office has filed a request to investigate five more suspects by the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, moving forward in a process political leaders has said could destabilize the country.
Acting co-prosecutor William Smith filed the request to investigating judges, after the Pre-Trial Chamber failed to reach a super-majority to close the indictments.
“This last set of cases to be prosecuted would lead to a more comprehensive accounting of the crimes that were committed under the [Khmer Rouge] regime during 1975-79,” Smith announced Tuesday.
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Tuesday an investigation can start anywhere from one month to a year after investigating judges receive a prosecutor’s submission.
The court is currently holding five suspects and is only now undertaking its first trial, of former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch.
Long Panhavuth, a project officer at the Open Justice Initiative in Cambodia, said five more suspects would be responsible for crimes similar to Duch, who prosecutors say oversaw the killing of at least 12,380 people at Tuol Sleng prison.
The prosecution’s motion was filed on Monday, the same day Prime Minister Hun Sen again warned that more investigations could lead to instability.
Many former Khmer Rouge cadre defected to the government in the final throes of the brutal regime, and officials say they still retain loyal followers.
It remains to be seen what investigating judges found and if any more suspects will see trial.