02 Jul Problems at the ECCC
Robert Petit, the International Co-Prosecutor, is resigning effective September 1:
In a statement, Robert Petit said he would be stepping down as of 1 September for personal and family reasons.
“It has been the greatest privilege of my career to have the opportunity to bring some justice to the victims of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge,” he said. “I remain convinced that Cambodia’s hopes for a better future lie, in part, on true accountability for crimes.”
Mr. Petit said that the search for his successor will likely wrap up soon.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), set up in 2003 under an agreement between the UN and Cambodia, is tasked with trying senior leaders and those most responsible for serious violations of Cambodian and international law committed during the Khmer Rouge rule.
The tribunal is staffed by a mixture of Cambodian and international employees and judges, and there are two prosecutors: Mr. Petit, who is leaving his post as International Co-Prosecutor, and Chea Leang, who is Cambodian.
Despite Petit’s statement, it seems likely that he is resigning because of his longstanding problems with Chea, who has continually stonewalled Petit’s attempts to consider charging additional suspects and is widely believed to be in the pocket of the Cambodian government:
Accusations gained intensity in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s hearing. Days before the hearing, the Open Society Justice Initiative lambasted the court for failing to uphold transparency standards, accusing co-prosecutor Chea Leang of lacking political independence after she refused to investigate six Khmer Rouge suspects in addition to the current five. In December, Ms. Chea and co-prosecutor Robert Petit publicly disagreed over whether to add more suspects, with Ms. Chea claiming further investigations could destabilize the country.
I hope the ECCC finds a suitable replacement for Petit. But it’s clear that the International Co-Prosecutor isn’t the problem.