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Crime Sites, Victim Information Released in Pending Tribunal Case

Local villagers sit and observe others preparing for a memorial service at a grave site of Phnom Trungbat in Do Dontrei village, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Siem Reap in Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. More than 100 people attended a Buddhist ceremony in rural Cambodia at the site of a freshly dug Khmer Rouge mass grave. Buddhist monks led prayers and people came with offerings of food and drinks Thursday, five days after about 20 skulls and bone fragments were unearthed at the site of a former Khmer Rouge prison. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

WASHINGTON DC - Investigating judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have publicized the names of more than a dozen Khmer Rouge crime sites in contentious case at the court, allowing victims to file at the court in what some observers say is a positive sign it is moving forward.

Victims with information from 14 sites across five provinces are encouraged to contact the court, according to a statement by the Cambodian and international investigating judges, who have before them two cases that would require five further indictments of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Those sites, mostly security centers and execution sites, include five in Pursat province, four in Takeo, three in Battambang and one each in Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham.

“Any witnesses or victims with information concerning these sites may contact the [tribunal] Victims Support Section, where they will be given further information about giving evidence and eligibility to apply as civil parties,” investigating judges Mark Harmon said in a statement.

The 14 sites fall under Case 004, which includes three Khmer Rouge suspects—named in court documents as Im Chaem; Ta An, also known as Oam An; and Ta Tith, also known as Yim Tith. The three were in charge of Khmer Rouge zones where hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have died through overwork, starvation or execution.

Im Sophea, outreach coordinator for the victims unit, said the announcement legally informs victims of the location of crime sites, allowing them to file complaints with the court if they or their loved ones were victims of crimes there.

The case is one of two before the office of investigating judges that are strongly opposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top Cambodian leaders. Allegations of their political interference at the UN-backed court have put the future of both cases in doubt for some.

International investigating judge Mark Harmon was appointed to the court in June, following several resignations by his predecessors who cited political interference and said they could not complete their jobs.

“I think the court is trying to solve this issue through a legal process, in order to make a final achievement that can be accepted all around,” Chhang Youk, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, told VOA Khmer. “And I think it is a positive sign.”

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the information could be used by victims who wish to be civil party complainants or by those who wish to be witnesses in the case if it comes to trial.

The sites, according to the tribunal’s website, follow.

In Battambang province: Thipakdei security office and Tuol Mtes worksite, Thipakdei commune, Koas Krala district; Phnom Tra Cheak Chet and Along Vil Breng, Ruessei Preah village, Chhnal Mean commune, Koas Krala district; Sector One security office and Damnak Reang execution site, Banan village, Kanteu commune, Banan district.

In Pursat province: Tuol Seh Nhauv Pits and Prey Krabau killing fields, Rumlech and Khnar Totung communes, Bakan district; Phum Veal prison, Talo commune, Bakan district; Svay Chrum, aka Phum Thkaul prison, and Boeng Bat Kandal, aka Trach Kraol prison, Boeng Bat Kandal commune, Bakan district; Chanreangsei Pagoda execution site, with Kaun Thnoat or Cham Village mass graves and wells, Rumlech commune, Bakan district; Veal Bak Chunching execution site, Sre Sdok commune, Kandieng district.

In Takeo province: Prey Sokhon execution site and Wat Ang Srei Muny detention center, Sy Sla village, Thlea Prachum commune, Koh Andet district; Slaeng village forest; Wat Angkun; Preil and Saom villages execution sites and Wat So Ben prison, Kok Prech and Kampeng communes, Kirivong district; Wat Pratheat Security Center, Kok Prech commune, Kirivong district; Kraing Ta Chan Security Center, Tram Kak district.

In Kampong Thom province: the “colonial prison” in Kampong Thom, Kampong Thom city.

In Kampong Cham province: Thnal Bek execution site, Svay Teap commune, Chamkarleu district.