With further indictments at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal moving forward for five leaders of the regime, a likely suspect, Im Chaem, told VOA Khmer she will not go to the court if summoned.
Im Chaem, now 65, is well known to villagers as a Khmer Rouge district chief in Banteay Meanchey province. She is now a deputy commune chief in Anglong Veng district, the last of the 1990s Khmer Rouge strongholds.
“I absolutely will not go, because the charge is unacceptable, and even if I’m called to court, I will not go,” she told VOA Khmer by phone. Asked why she would refuse to cooperate with the court, she said she had “no faults” reason enough to go.
She said she was “relieved” to hear Prime Minister Hun Sen object to further indictments, following promises of amnesty to cadre in the waning days of the regime, which ultimately fought a losing battle with government forces led by today’s premier.
If new investigations are opened ‘just to prosecute without reason,’ it will unsettle former Khmer Rouge cadre, she said.
‘’If you challenge more, it makes everybody feel no peace,’’ Im Chaem told VOA Khmer.
In on-site interviews with VOA Khmer several months ago, villagers in Proneth Preah district said Im Chaem was feared in the region and had been in charge when a number of crimes were committed under the Khmer Rouge.
Im Chaem has denied any wrongdoing, saying people who were killed or went missing there did so before her arrival as chief in 1978.
However, Khmer Rouge scholars say she could be among a tier of the regime’s leaders to face indictments. The Pre-Trial Chamber have now allowed five indictment submissions from the prosecutors office to move to the investigating judges, despite warnings from Hun Sen and other Cambodian officials more arrests could lead to instability.
Knut Rosandhaug, a UN coordinator for the tribunal, told VOA Khmer in an e-mail “it is a clearly established international standard that courts do not seek approval or advice on their work from the executive branch.”
“I expect that the ECCC will comply with this internationally recognized standard and make its decisions independently,” he said, referring to the tribunal by its official initials, for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
The tribunal is currently trying its first Khmer Rouge suspect, the former prison chief known as Duch, and is holding four more: Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, andIeng Thirith.