Case 002/02 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) – also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – begins initial hearings today. Case 002 began in November 2011; since then, one of the defendants has died, another has been ruled unfit to stand trial and the case has been separated into an undecided number of sub-trials or “mini-trials” – of which Case 002/02 is one. The twists and turns in one of the most complex trials in Cambodia – and perhaps in all of the world – make it a difficult and complicated one to keep up with. Here is a primer on the ECCC and Case 002/02 to help you keep it straight.
What is the ECCC?
The ECCC was established within the Cambodian judicial system following an agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, and was officially inaugurated in 2006. The hybrid court is tasked with the trial of “senior leaders” and those “most responsible” for crimes allegedly committed between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million up to 2.2 million Cambodians – a quarter of the total population.
What is Case 002/02?
Case 002/02 is the second trial relating to the charges made against the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Trial Chamber of the ECCC decided that Case 002 was too big to try as a one case and so severed it into an undetermined number of smaller cases (for an in-depth background on and analysis of the severance decision, CCHR issued a Briefing Note on the subject). The ECCC finished hearing arguments in Case 002/01 on 31 October 2013 and will deliver its verdict on 7 August 2014, and is thus now proceeding with Case 002/02.
Who is being tried?
Pol Pot’s deputy, Nuon Chea (88 years old), also notoriously known as Brother Number Two, and Khieu Samphan (82 years old), former head of state of Democratic Kampuchea, are the only defendants left in Case 002. Two of the original defendants were severed from the case: Ieng Thirith, often dubbed ‘the first lady’ of the Khmer Rouge, was found mentally incapable to stand trial due to Alzheimer’s disease in September 2012, and her husband and co founder of the Khmer Rouge, Ieng Sary, died in March 2013.
What are the charges?
The Supreme Court Chamber had originally ordered that Case 002/02 include only charges related to S-21, a worksite, a cooperative and genocide. However, following appeals from both the prosecution and Nuon Chea’s defence team, the court widened the scope of Case 002/02 to include:
- Genocide against the Cham and the Vietnamese (although excluding crimes against humanity committed on Vietnamese territory);
- Forced marriages and rape;
- Internal purges;
- S-21 Security Centre; Kraing Ta Chan Security Centre, Au Kanseng Security Centre and Phnom Kraol Security Centre;
- 1st January Dam Worksite; Kampong Chhnang Airport Construction site, Trapeang Thma Dam Worksite;
- Tram Kok Cooperative;
- Treatment of Buddhists (limited to Tram Kok Cooperatives); and
- Targeting of former Khmer Republic Officials.
More details about some of these places is available on the ECCC’s website.
How many victims are there?
There are approximately 200 civil parties being represented in this case, all are direct victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. The civil parties are seeking a wide range of moral and collective reparation requests to address the harm suffered as a consequence of the actions of the accused.
How many more cases will there be?
It is not yet known – which the defense has argued has a negative impact on the defendants’ right to self defense given the uncertainty over the charges they may face. Most importantly, with some of the gravest of crimes having been left out to future unconfirmed trials, many are concerned that justice will be never be served. The financial instability regarding the funding of the ECCC and its Cambodian staff and the continuing political deadlock between the government and the ECCC raises serious doubts as to whether there will be any cases after this.
There have also been attempts to purse further cases – named Cases 003 and 004 – which concern different suspects, but the government has repeatedly interfered and has made it clear that they do not support the court investigating any further individuals.
How can I follow what’s going on in Case 002/02?
The International Justice Monitor, a project of Open Society Institute, has a great website dedicated to the cases at the ECCC; you can also follow them on Twitter: @ijmonitor. The Asian International Justice Initiative also has a program dedicated to monitoring and providing updates about the ECCC; their Twitter handle is @KRT_Monitor.
And of course, keep following this blog as we will update you with any new and important developments!
Lale Kuzu, CCHR International Intern, contribute to this blog post.