UN denies halting Khmer Rouge investigation

The United Nations has strongly denied that it had ordered Cambodia war crimes judges to reject a new case involving the Khmer Rouge.

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2011, 10:34 AM IST

United Nations: The United Nations has
strongly denied that it had ordered Cambodia war crimes judges to reject a new case involving the Khmer Rouge.

With the country gearing up for a major Khmer Rouge
era trial this month, Cambodian media reports said five UN
staff have resigned in protest at a decision to close the new
case without properly investigating the charges.

The UN-backed war crimes court has threatened legal
action in a bid to prevent publication of leaked details of
the case.

"The United Nations categorically rejects media
speculation that we have instructed the co-investigating
judges to dismiss Case Three," said UN spokesman Martin
Nesirky of the new Khmer Rouge inquiry yesterday.

The names of the suspects in the case have not been
made public, but they are thought to be two ex-commanders from
the brutal 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime blamed for up to two
million deaths.

"Support for the independence of the judiciary is a
fundamental principle that the United Nations upholds in
Cambodia as elsewhere," said Nesirky.

Judges and prosecutors at the Cambodia courts "must be
allowed to function free from external interference by the
royal government of Cambodia, the United Nations, donor
states, and civil society," he added.

The Cambodia war crimes court`s second trial starts on
June 27. Among the four defendants are Khieu Samphan, the
former Khmer Rouge head of state, and Nuon Chea, the deputy to
notorious regime leader Pol Pot.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly voiced his
objection to further trials, however, saying they could plunge
the country into civil war.

The international court`s investigating judges have
been under fire ever since they announced in April they had
concluded their investigations into case three, without
questioning the suspects.

International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley -- without
the backing of his Cambodian colleague -- demanded the
suspects be interviewed and more crime scenes examined but the
judges rejected his request last week on technicalities.

Nesirky said the UN will "not comment on issues which
remain the subject of judicial consideration, nor speculate on
actions that should or should not be taken by the judges or
prosecutors in any case."

He added however that the investigating judges "are
not under an obligation to provide reasons for their actions
at this stage of the investigation in Case Three."

Nesirky said the trial starting this month "will be of
true international significance and deserves the ongoing,
strong support of the international community."

PTI