Phnom Penh, December 02, 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes court has a new international prosecutor, the UN-backed tribunal announced on Wednesday, several months after the previous holder of the post resigned.
Briton Andrew T Caley, who has worked at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has been formally appointed by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, a court statement said.
The appointment was welcomed by court observers, who said it was important to get a permanent international prosecutor in place as soon as possible.
"There are many critical decisions that should be made in the (next) case in the next two months and they should be made by the international prosecutor who will have the responsibility for carrying them out," Heather Ryan, court monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, told AFP.
Caley is expected to arrive in Cambodia within the next few weeks, said tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen.
Canadian prosecutor Robert Petit announced his resignation from the court in June, citing personal and family reasons after a row with his local counterpart over whether to pursue more suspects of the late 1970s communist regime.
Petit denied his sudden resignation from the tribunal was due to the dispute with Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang.
The court's first trial of prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, concluded last week with Australian Bill Smith serving as interim international prosecutor.
The tribunal, which was created in 2006 to prosecute leading Khmer Rouge members, also plans to try four former leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity sometime in 2011.
It is currently investigating whether to open cases against five additional suspects.
The process, however, has often been hit by allegations that Prime Minister Hun Sen's administration has attempted to interfere in the tribunal to protect former regime members who are now in government.
The 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime killed up to two million people through starvation, overwork and torture as it attempted to forge a communist utopia.