The Pre-Trial Chamber of the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday delayed an order from investigating judges that the court’s international prosecutor retract public statements about a controversial case at the court.
Chamber judges said the prosecutor’s remarks, which outlined several investigation sites and other details in Case 003, were already public and that a retraction ahead of an appeals decision would not erase them from the public record.
The decision comes amid increased scrutiny of the investigating judges’ office, which has seen a staff exodus since April, when it brought a hasty conclusion to Case 003—a case Prime Minister Hun Sen opposes.
International prosecutor Andrew Cayley said in a public statement last month he would file for further investigation in the case, including further investigation of key crime sites and questioning of the two suspects.
The investigating judges countered with an order for him to retract portions of the statement they said had revealed confidential information, an order Cayley appealed against.
Judge Prak Kimsan, head of the Pre-Trial Chamber, said in the decision Monday that Cayley’s public statements could not be retracted and were already part of the public domain.
The chamber ordered a suspension of the investigating judges’ order ahead of a full decision on Cayley’s appeal. Tribunal spokesman Dim Sovannarom confirmed the decision.
Chhang Youk, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the decision bolstered support for the prosecution’s work and exposed the “weakness” of the office of the investigating judges.
Meanwhile, local media reported Monday that a group of UN legal advisers for the office have left it dismayed, following the judges’ April 29 conclusion of Case 003.
Critics of the conclusion order say it signaled an unwillingness of the office to fully pursue the politically sensitive case.