Monday, 19 January 2009
Written by Robbie Corey-Boulet
The Phnom Penh Post
A SURVEY commissioned by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) will ask ordinary Cambodians to weigh in on the question that has divided the national and international prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal: Should additional suspects be brought to trial?
DC-Cam Director Youk Chhang said the survey, to be administered over the next few weeks, will give Cambodians not affiliated with the war crimes court an opportunity to voice their views as to how it should be run.
"The role of the ECCC is to provide a final judgment to the victims, and a fair judgment cannot be made unless they listen to the victims," he said. "Victims are not only the witness of history; they are also judges."
Robert Petit, the international prosecutor at the tribunal, filed a "statement of disagreement" last month after he failed to reach an agreement with Chea Leang, his Cambodian counterpart, on his proposal to submit more suspects for investigation.
Chea Leang has reiterated her opposition to expand the list of suspects beyond the five currently detained, saying such a move could stymie efforts at national reconciliation and overstretch the court's budget.
In addition to asking respondents whether they think the ECCC should try more than the five current detainees, the survey asks whether they think "the cost of the trials should be an important factor" in determining how many KR leaders to prosecute; if they expect additional prosecutions would lead to "public disorder or violence"; and whether they think the ECCC should wait for the trials of the current detainees to be completed before making fresh indictments.
Youk Chhang said he was forming a "professional team" to arrange for the survey to be conducted, adding that he expects to receive results by early February.