Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Motoo

Judge Motoo is quickly establishing himself as the most vocal of the ECCC court officials. Here his is again urging haste in finalizing the rules. Of note in this piece is his insistence on no compromise for international standards and his basic agreement with the ECCC's Cambodian spokeswoman over the complexity of combining international law and Cambodian law as the source of the delays.

Judge Moto is not the only one getting press these days however. Apparently both the International Co-Prosecutor and the International Investigating Judge have appeared on the Phnom Penh based CTN television station in the last weeks. Will the Principle Defender dare to appear as well?

Judge says Cambodian genocide tribunal urgent

HAMDEN, Connecticut: The Khmer Rouge genocide trials in Cambodia should start quickly, a judge serving on the tribunal said Wednesday, noting that many defendants, victims and witnesses are old.

"We can't dwell on this for years," Motoo Noguchi, a Japanese prosecutor who will serve as a judge for the tribunal, said at a talk at Quinnipiac University School of Law. "Now it's time to really start cases. We have to identify the disagreements and we have to make our best efforts to solve them and quickly move to the next stage."

A 2003 agreement between Cambodia and the United Nations created the tribunal after years of difficult negotiations seeking justice for crimes committed when the Khmer Rouge held power from 1975-79.

The radical policies of the now-defunct communist group led to the deaths of some 1.7 million people from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition.

Prosecutors are expected to indict about 10 defendants, including the few surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders.

Organizers of the trials said last month they have been unable to agree on the judicial rules that will govern proceedings, but they still expect to convene the long-awaited tribunal in mid-2007.

The Cambodian and international judicial officials said last month that they had encountered "substantive disagreement" in their goal to adopt 110 draft rules for running the proceedings. The rules cover every phase of the proceedings — preliminary investigations, judicial investigations, the trial and appeals. They also delineate the roles of all parties, including prosecutors, defense attorneys and defendants. The tribunal cannot begin until they are in place.

Human Rights Watch last week accused the Cambodian government of intervening to delay adoption of the rules, a charge the government denied.

Helen Jarvis, a spokeswoman for the tribunal, has said there was no indication of political interference from the government and that the delay was due partly to the complexity of legal issues that Cambodian and foreign judicial officers are grappling with.

Noguchi offered a similar assessment, saying participants were dealing with complex international law as well as language and cultural differences.

Unlike other international tribunals, the Cambodian judges are a majority on the panel and international participants a minority, Noguchi said. Participants not from Cambodia must ensure the tribunal meets international standards, he said.

"We are not allowed to make any serious compromise on that," Noguchi said.

No new date has been set for adopting the rules.

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