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Tribunal Should Stay Long Enough For a Legacy: Monitor

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, (ECCC).
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, (ECCC).

A leading Khmer Rouge tribunal monitor said Monday he was optimistic the UN-backed court, once gone, would leave behind a positive model for the country—as long as it staid long enough.

“For my behalf, as a Cambodian, I hope that this court will not leave behind a legacy of impunity rather than justice,” said Latt Ky, who covers the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said repeatedly that no more than five defendants already in custody will be tried by the court. But with possible indictments for at least two more cases still a possibility, some observers are questioning how the court will leave.

If two more cases to be tried after the first, for torture chief Duch, and the second, for senior leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, are not covered by the tribunal, they could be kicked down to the national courts.

But Latt Ky said he saw no signs the Cambodian courts could handle such cases. “If they can't comply with international standards, then what happens to those cases? Are they going to be transferred back to a special court? And the re-establishment of a special court?”

The tribunal should “end its mission at the end, not end it in the middle,” he said.

He put the responsibility on UN personnel, who are well experienced, for failing to find ways to move the court forward. In the face of interference, he said, some have resigned. Others have resigned under pressure, he said.