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Cambodia; United Nations: Indictment for Crimes Against Humanity

(Mar. 31, 2015) On March 27, 2015, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a United Nations-backed tribunal established in 2006 to try those accused of crimes committed when the Khmer Rouge controlled the country, charged Ao An, a former Khmer Rouge member, with “crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhuman acts.” (UN-Backed Court Charges Former Khmer Rouge Leader with Crimes Against Humanity, UN NEWS CENTRE (Mar. 27, 2015); The International Co-Investigating Judge Charges Ao An in Case 004, ECCC website (Mar. 27, 2015).)

The indictment is part of Case 004, which was initiated on September 7, 2009, and covers crimes committed between April 17, 1975, and January 6, 1979, in many locations within Cambodia. (Case 004, ECCC website (last visited Mar. 30, 2015) [includes a full list of the locations involved].)

Ao An has been charged with crimes that took place at three locations and that include premeditated homicide, which is a violation of the Cambodian Penal Code of 1956, and murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts (including inhumane detention conditions). (The International Co-Investigating Judge Charges Ao An in Case 004, supra; CODE PÉNAL ET LOIS PÉNALES [CRIMINAL CODE AND LAWS] (Phnom Penh, 1956).)

Ao An’s attorneys will now have access to the files in the case and may participate in the investigation. According to the ECCC, “[t]his will allow the investigation to proceed with full respect of the rights of all parties and to conclude it within a reasonable time … .” (The International Co-Investigating Judge Charges Ao An in Case 004, supra.)

The ECCC has held other former Khmer Rouge members in custody for crimes against humanity, including two charged recently. On March 3, 2015, an investigating judge of the ECCC charged Meas Muth in Case 003 with the commission of a range of atrocities. Muth was the commander of the navy for the Khmer Rouge. In addition, in the same case under which An is charged, Im Chaem, a former district commander, has been accused of similar crimes. (Cambodia: Two New Suspects Charged Before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, International Federation for Human Rights website (Mar. 5, 2015).)

It is estimated that 1.7 million people died in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime in the years 1975-1979, from starvation, torture, execution, and forced labor. (UN-Backed Court Charges Former Khmer Rouge Leader with Crimes Against Humanity, supra.)