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Prosecutor Questions Tribunal Jurisdiction in Third Case

Former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan, left, and Nuon Chea, right, look on during the funeral for Khieu Ponnary, the first wife of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin, northwestern Cambodia, (File photo).

The Cambodian prosecutor for the Khmer Rouge tribunal announced Tuesday that potential suspects named in a third case for the UN-backed court do not fall under its mandate, putting herself at odds with her international counterpart and reviving debate over two contentious cases.

Prosecutor Chea Leang said in a statement the suspects in Case 003, whose names are confidential, should not be prosecuted or investigated further, as they are not the persons most responsible for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.

Her statement follows complaints by several victims of the Khmer Rouge naming those they thought responsible under cases 003 and 004.

It also follows public remarks by her international counterpart Monday calling for the names of suspects to be made public and for more investigation to continue.

Investigating judges announced April 29 they had concluded their investigations in Case 003, offering a short period for prosecutors to review the case.

“The named suspects in case file 003 do not fall within the jurisdiction” of the tribunal, Chea Leang said in her statement. Those named in the case are “neither senior leaders nor those who were most responsible during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.”