Defence lawyers for the Khmer Rouge’s Im Chaem have welcomed a highly redacted decision to dismiss her case, saying it was a “milestone in her long and difficult march towards justice”.
Chaem, a district chief who had the authority to order executions, was deemed too low-ranking to be held responsible for crimes against humanity under the regime, but the bulk of the legal reasoning for throwing out her case was redacted from the co-investigators’ filing, drawing criticism from tribunal observers.
Lawyers Bit Seanglim and Wayne Jordash praised the investigating judges for their “careful consideration of the facts” and for fairly evaluating the evidence, despite the lengthy proceedings.
“[D]espite these regrettable circumstances, our client welcomes the dismissal of all charges and the lifting of some of the weight of the unfair and inaccurate allegations she has faced for almost ten years,” they said.
“She has always denied every allegation and today’s decision is a significant step towards demonstrating her innocence and clearing her name.”
Chaem’s case has long been controversial; the government has been openly opposed to it, and it also splintered the prosecution team. National Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang argued the charges should be dropped as Chaem was not a senior leader, but International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian said Chaem was one of those “most responsible” and forged ahead.
“[T]he International Co-Prosecutor’s assessment was flawed and ultimately wrong,” the defence said.
Koumjian yesterday noted that most factual findings in the decision were classified confidential. “[I]f Im Chaem’s defence is truly convinced that the evidence shows the case should never have been pursued, I hope they will join me in asking that both sides’ submissions and the judges’ full reasoning be made public, so that everyone can see the state of the evidence,” he said.
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