Cambodian-American lawyer Seng Theary announced Monday she plans to apply as a civil party for the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Case 004, the second of two controversial cases at the UN-backed court.
In so doing, she named three high-level Khmer Rouge cadres, Im Chaem, Ta Tith and Ta Tha, for crimes related to two security centers where up to 30,000 people died.
Seng Theary, who is the head of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia, said she would file her complaint to push the case through the court, which has been accused of dragging its feet on two cases, Nos. 003 and 004.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and other Cambodian officials oppose both cases going forward, because they say they could stir up surviving Khmer Rouge members.
Court officials have repeatedly denied any political interference. However, investigating judges have come under increased criticism for their handling of cases 003 and 004, even as the court prepares for its first hearing in Case 002, to try four jailed leaders for atrocity crimes. That hearing is scheduled to open June 27.
“As you are and will be already congregating in Phnom Penh in the coming days for the opening hearings of Case 002, I request that you take this opportunity also to complete the application for Cases 003 and 004,” Seng Theary wrote in an open letter to victims and civil party lawyers.
Seng Theary said she was requesting the investigating judges to look into the security centers of Wat Tlork and Boeung Rai, among others.
She said her mother had been killed at Boeung Rai, a security center that was “overlooked” by court investigators along with other sites in the Eastern Zone, where “many senior officials of the current Cambodian People’s Party were former KR cadres.” She also accused the court of failing to investigate the areas because they are “politically sensitive with the current ruling party.”
Her filing for Case 004 follows a rejection from investigating judges for her application as a participant in Case 003, which she is appealing. Seng Theary incurred a sharp rebuke from the court over that filing, when she named as suspects Khmer Rouge commanders Sou Met and Meas Muth.
On Monday, tribunal spokesman Dim Sovannarom said her open letter abused confidentiality principles of the court by naming suspects the tribunal has so far kept anonymous.
However, Latt Ky, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said the letter should not be a problem for her and that it served to move the case forward.