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Departing Tribunal Judge Calls Two More Suspects ‘Most Responsible’

Swiss judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet is expected to leave the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Friday.

Swiss judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet is expected to leave the Khmer Rouge tribunal Friday, following a turbulent run as international investigating judge that critics say underscored high-level political interference at the UN-backed court.

Before leaving, however, the judge issued his own decisions on two suspects of a potential third case at the court, saying former navy chief Meas Muth and former air force chief Sou Met were among those “most responsible” for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and should therefore be prosecuted by the court.

The widely publicized names were redacted from the official decision, which was not signed off on by his counterpart, judge You Bunleng. The court’s mandate is to pursue only those suspects considered “most responsible” for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Kasper-Ansermet said in his decisions the tribunal had the duty to bring the two men to justice.

According to court documents, Meas Muth is accused of purges inside his division, the arrest and execution of Thai and Vietnamese fishermen and the transfer of prisoners to the notorious Tuol Sleng torture center; Sou Met is accused of running a security center and supervising forced labor of the Kampong Chhnang airport.

Meanwhile, court observers say the UN and Cambodia must appoint a new international investigating judge after Kasper-Ansermet’s departure.

Meas Muth and Sou Met are under Case 003, with another three suspects in Case 004. Both cases are strongly opposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials, and critics say they are unlikely to be completed.

Kasper-Ansermet is the second judge to leave the tribunal over the cases, along with a number of important staff members. Kasper-Ansermet has said he had little cooperation from the Cambodian side of his office.

UN officials say more judges are being considered for nomination.

“We’re still waiting for a new appointment of new judges [to see] whether this can move on,” said Latt Ky, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc.