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Leading Civil Party Withdraws Complaint from Tribunal

David J. Schefer, an U.S. Professor of Law of Northwestern University, right, and Cambodian genocide victim Theary Seng, front left, walk through a gate at the U.N.-backed tribunal court hall, file photo.

Seng Theary, a Cambodian-American lawyer whose family members were killed by the Khmer Rouge, had one word for the UN-backed tribunal when she withdrew her case from the court on Tuesday: “Enough.”

Seng Theary, who is the president of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims, representing more than 3,800 complainants at the court, submitted her withdrawal because she felt the court “cannot provide justice to victims,” she told reporters later. She called the court “a farce.”

Seng Theary had been a civil party complainant in cases 003 and 004, which have come under intense scrutiny for alleged political interference and mishandling by investigating judges.

She blamed the UN for “complicity” in the poor handling of the cases, which would require five more indictments at the court, a move Prime Minister Hun Sen opposes on the grounds it would destabilize the country. She called on the government and international observers to work toward more independence at the court and further investigation into both cases.

Tribunal spokesman Huy Vannak said the UN and the government were committed to letting the court functional independently.

However, Long Panhavuth, a court monitor for the Cambodia Justice Initiative, said the withdrawal would “send a message to the court” that could lead to “more victims who will withdraw their participation in court processes.”