Posts Tagged ‘Kasper-Ansermet’
22 March 2012,AFP
The United Nations said Thursday it would not tolerate impunity at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge war crimes court in a worsening row with Phnom Penh about whether to pursue more suspects.
In a major setback to the UN-backed tribunal, a Swiss judge on Monday became the second international judge in six months to resign over difficulties probing two new cases linked to the 1975-1979 regime blamed for the deaths of up to two million people. The government strongly opposes the cases.
The UN is now likely discussing whether to find a replacement for Laurent Kasper-Ansermet from May 4 or possibly pull out of the court altogether, observers say.
“The United Nations, in its dealings with the (court), remains committed to ensuring that impunity for the crimes committed during the period of the Democratic Kampuchea is not tolerated,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in an email to AFP.
The UN had earlier expressed “concern” about the latest resignation, but issued a much stronger statement on Thursday after Kasper-Ansermet published a document detailing how his efforts to investigate the cases were blocked at every turn by his Cambodian colleague.
Kasper-Ansermet alleges that his counterpart made it difficult for him to have access to drivers, translators and even the office’s official seal to validate court filings.
“The United Nations is seriously concerned about these worrying developments,” said Nesirky.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former cadre before he defected, has long objected to the potential new cases involving five mid-level Khmer Rouge members, telling Ban in 2010 that prosecutions beyond the current second trial were “not allowed”.
Asked whether Cambodia stood by that position, Ek Tha, a government spokesman, told AFP: “Whatever my prime minister says, I respect his decision.”
Kasper-Ansermet’s resignation came after a German judge quit the court in October citing government interference in the controversial cases.
The UN named reserve judge Kasper-Ansermet as his replacement but Phnom Penh refused to recognise the appointment, and the UN reminded Cambodia on Thursday this was “a breach” of the agreement establishing the court.
The tribunal has so far completed just one case, sentencing a former prison chief to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people.
The PP Post by Bridget Di Certo with additional reporting by Cheang Sokha
20 March 2012
After four months of seemingly endless conflict, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet is leaving the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Cambodian staff at the tribunal have stonewalled all efforts by the UN-nominated reserve co-investigating judge to investigate government-opposed cases 003 and 004, effectively forcing his resignation, the judge announced yesterday.
The Swiss national tendered his resignation to the UN secretary-general, effective on May 4, 2012, in the midst of what he called a “dysfunctional situation within the ECCC”.
“I am truly blocked in every aspect,” Kasper-Ansermet told the Post yesterday.
“It is illegal, and I cannot validate this situation any more.”
Kasper-Ansermet’s Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng, has opposed his authority to act in the capacity of reserve international co-investigating judge since the day the Swiss judge arrived in Cambodia.
However, this conflict has now spread and embroils the majority of tribunal sections key to fair and proper investigations into cases 003 and 004.
Information obtained by the Post yesterday revealed the rapidly deteriorating situation at the tribunal, in which national officers have prevented Kasper-Ansermet from conducting even the most basic functions of his office.
The head of the court management section and case file officer have refused to file Kasper-Ansermet’s Order on Resuming the Judicial Investigation in Case 003 under the instructions of the OCIJ national legal team leader and You Bunleng, a source from the court said yesterday.
This obstruction to filing has been extended to all case file documents created under the leadership of Kasper-Ansermet since his arrival in Cambodia, according to the source.
The effect of this is that no steps, including the resumption of investigations in Case 003, the continuation of investigations in Case 004 or records of investigators informing the five suspects of the charges against them and their rights have been filed with the court.
Further, as previously reported by the Post, national staff within the Court Management Section disregarded a judicial decision by Kasper-Ansermet to allow civil party applicant Rob Hamill’s lawyers access to the case file in 003.
This skirmish over access resulted in the OCIJ international legal team leader being banned from the Records and Archives Unit by the chief of the Court Management Section.
Access was only granted later by international staff.
Amid this widening divide, the source said that the national greffier of the OCIJ and You Bunleng’s administrative assistant have withheld the official OCIJ seal – the symbol of judicial authority of the office – from international staff in the office.
The Ministry of Interior additionally rejected a request by international staff for another seal because the request was not signed by both co-investigating judges.
It is in this context that Kasper-Ansermet opened an internal investigation for “interference with the administration of justice”, according to his press release yesterday.
However, even this internal investigation has been blocked by those under investigation who refused to respond to summons issued by international investigators.
International investigators were told that You Bunleng was the sole decider of policy within the OCIJ and made clear that all actions emanated from instructions of the Cambodian judge.
When contacted yesterday about the allegations, You Bunleng denied there was any ill intention on his part against Kasper-Ansermet.
“I actually never have had any dispute with him,” You Bunleng said by telephone yesterday.
“Of course I have met him, and we have discussed about work procedure, but my stance toward him has not changed from my previous statement.”
You Bunleng referred to a letter he addressed to Kasper-Ansermet on February 27, titled “Abrupt stop of unlawful acts and of the use of my name to link to these acts”.
You Bunleng wrote: “I would like to call for your abrupt stop of these unlawful acts and of the use of my name to link to such deeds, particularly to what you have so far considered solely as disagreements between co-investigating judges.”
The Post has previously reported on Kasper-Ansermet’s registration of a disagreement between the two judges.
In his response to that letter, Kasper-Ansermet wrote: “[I] urge you to comply with the law and to refrain from sending me admonitions that are without legal basis and whose sole aim seems to be undermining the proper performance of my duties.”
Council of Ministers’ spokesman Ek Tha said the government had no comment on Kasper-Ansermet’s resignation.
“All I can say is that the Royal Government of Cambodia is very clear and has never and will never interfere with the work of the ECCC,” Ek Tha said.
Clair Duffy of court monitor Open Society Justice Initiative said this was just the latest development in a history of Cambodian tribunal staff acting in accordance with executive will in respect to the government-opposed cases 003 and 004.
“It is interesting to see You Bunleng talk about Kasper-Ansermet’s unlawful conduct when you [consider that] every action and inaction and the unlawfulness of [Bunleng’s] conduct has been documented left, right and centre,” Duffy said.
“The UN and donors can stand upright now and address the heart of this issue.”
The PPPost by Bridget Di Certo,12 March 2012
The drafters of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s 2012-2013 budget have made no time or monetary allowance for any trials in government-opposed cases 003 and 004, documents published on Saturday reveal.
The Trial Chamber is expected to hand down the final verdict in Case 002 by 2016, with all appeals finalised by 2018, at which point the tribunal would cease operations and close down, the current budget projects.
The 2012-2013 budget anticipates that the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, which is now investigating cases 003 and 004, and the Pre-Trial Chamber, which hears appeals relating to investigations, will be “phased out” in about one year’s time.
“The reduced workload level … projected for both the Pre-Trial Chamber and the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges in 2013 … will result in the phasing out of the [Pre-Trial Chamber] and the [Office of the Co-Investigating Judges] from the middle of 2013,” the budget document states.
Last month, UN-nominated international reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet resumed investigations in Case 003 after they were closed by his international predecessor and current Cambodian counterpart in April 2011.
In the opinion of the international Pre-Trial Chamber judges, Kasper-Ansermet has a green light to continue investigations in controversial Case 004.
Kasper-Ansermet has allegedly begun informing the suspects in cases 003 and 004 of the charges against them.
Public affairs officer at the tribunal Neth Pheaktra said he had “no information” yet about if and when there would be time and monetary budget revisions to allow for trials in cases 003 and 004. “It is too early to comment on this yet,” Neth Pheaktra said, adding that the court’s administration was responsible for drawing up the budget and making the timing projections.
The budget states that Trial Chamber judges are expected to hand down the verdict in the first mini-trial in Case 002 concerning the April 17, 1975, evacuation of Phnom Penh, by the end of 2013.
“On this projection, a first verdict could be expected by the end of 2013 while the last verdict [in Case 002] may be issued in 2016,” states the budget document, which was approved by donors at a meeting in New York in February with the condition it could be revised if allowances for cases 003 and 004 were insufficient.
The budget states the court is expected to run until 2018.
The Case 002 time projections allocate two years to hear charges against the trio of Khmer Rouge senior leaders regarding their involvement in the evacuation of Phnom Penh.
Three years have been allocated to hear all the remaining Case 002 charges including genocide, forced marriage, forced labour sites, detention and security centres and other Khmer Rouge policies allegedly causing the deaths of about two million Cambodians.
Anne Heindel, legal adviser at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, told the Post it would be difficult to take to trial all the remaining crimes in the Case 002 indictment in just three years.
“It sounds to me that they are budgeting for one more trial and that is all,” Heindel said.
“[The projected timeline] raises questions about how they are going to proceed and what parts of the indictment they are going to leave out.”
A 2018 closure of operations, however, was “politically realistic” she added. “No one has the will or the funding to want this court to go very much past that.”
The PP Post, by May Titthara and Bridget Di Certo with additional reporting by Shane Worrell Tuesday, 06 March 2012
After nearly four years of controversy and stalling, the Khmer Rouge tribunal has made moves to formally inform suspects in government-opposed cases 003 and 004 of the charges against them – a critical step in the momentum of the two cases.
“Last year DSS made several requests to … represent the general interests of the suspects, but these requests were declined.”