British prosecutor appointed to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia announced today that Andrew T. Cayley has been appointed the a new international co-prosecutor for the UN-backed court in Cambodia . The ECCC’s statement said over the last two years, Mr. Cayley, has been in private practice, defending Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ivan Cermak before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Prior to this he served as Prosecuting Counsel at ICTY from 1995-2001, the first three years being seconded from the British army by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the ICTY. Cayley has also served as senior prosecuting counsel for the International Criminal Court investigating crimes in Darfur
The news is significant because Robert Petit, former international co-prosecutor resigned some six months ago and has not been replaced until now. The last two years of the Khmer Rouge trials has seen persistent division between him and the Cambodian Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang over prosecution policy as he attempted to spread accountability wider while. Political wrangling between the international and Cambodian components of the Chambers has led to many delays, and allegations of corruption among the tribunal’s Cambodian staff have hurt the tribunal’s credibility. The resignation of Mr Petit came after a dispute with Chea Leang over whether to pursue more suspects of the Khmer Rouge regime beyond the current five indictees. His Cambodian colleague is believed to have come under severe pressure from the Government to resist any such investigations as there is a danger they might prove embarrassing or sores to the Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Mr Petit denied any connection, saying personal reasons were behind his resignation, and until today left the seat for William Smith, Australian, as acting international co-prosecutor since then. The appointment was welcomed by court observers, who said it was important to get a permanent international prosecutor in place as soon as possible. ‘There are many critical decisions that should be made in the (next) case in the next two months and they should be made by the international prosecutor who will have the responsibility for carrying them out,’ Heather Ryan, court monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, told AFP. One can only hope Mr Cayley proves a forceful advocate for the independence of the prosecutorial function and the widening of accountability. American Nicholas Koumjian was appointed reserve co-prosecutor.
The trial of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was completed last week, while the joint trial of four other – more senior – Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011.