Statement of the International Co-Investigating Judge Regarding Case 004

On 9 December 2015, the International Co-Investigating Judge charged Mr Yim Tith with the following alleged crimes:

  • Genocide of the Khmer Krom;
  • Crimes against Humanity, namely murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation; imprisonment; torture; persecution against the so-called “17 April people”, “East Zone Evacuees”, Northwest Zone cadres, their families and subordinates, as well as the Khmer Krom and Vietnamese; and other inhumane acts including forced marriage;
  • Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 committed as part of an international armed conflict between Democratic Kampuchea and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, namely wilful killing and the unlawful deportation or transfer of civilians;
  • Violations of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code, namely premeditated homicide.

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Suspect charged in KRT’s Case 004

PHNOM PENH POST | ALESSANDRO MARAZZI SASSOON | 9 DECEMBER 2015

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Ta Tith (left) and his wife, Ung Ken pose for a photo in 2011. DC-CAM

Charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Convention and homicide were brought against Yim Tith, alias “Ta Tith”, by international co-investigating judge Michael Bohlander at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Case 004 suspect Ta Tith, now a wealthy businessman, was a mid-level commander during the Democratic Kampuchea regime and is accused of crimes committed at security centres, execution sites and worksites in the Southwest Zone – in what is now Takeo province – as well as in Battambang, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey provinces, formerly part of the Northwest Zone.

Married to Ong Ken, the younger sister of deceased “brother number five” Ta Mok, Tith is the first suspect to be charged by Bohlander, who was appointed in August following the resignation of judge Mark Harmon in July.

Case 004, along with Case 003, has been strongly opposed by the government and the tribunal’s national side. National co-investigating judge You Bunleng did not sign the charges.

Tith is charged with genocide against the Khmer Krom – ethnic Khmers from present-day southern Vietnam – as well as various crimes against humanity, including enslavement, deportation, murder, extermination, imprisonment and the persecution of evacuees, Northwest Zone cadres and their families, Khmer Krom and ethnic Vietnamese.

In 1977 and 1978, Southwest Zone cadres led by Ta Mok and Ta Tith “purged and replaced the existing cadre of the Northwest Zone”, according to a leaked copy of the third introductory submission, the document prosecutors presented to the investigating judges to outline desired allegations against Ta Tith and the other Case 004 suspects.

“As a result of this purge, Ta Tith became the Acting Secretary of the Northwest Zone”, and “had been the Secretary of the Kirivong District of the Southwest Zone in 1976 and 1977”.

According to the document, as secretary of Kirivong district, Tith allegedly oversaw the killing of “as many as 16,000” people at the Wat Pratheat security centre, where he allegedly knew of or may have given orders to kill, torture and mutilate prisoners.

ECCC legal communications officer Lars Olsen confirmed that Tith was charged unilaterally by Bohlander, but said that to his knowledge, no arrest warrant was issued.

According to Olsen, now that Tith is charged, he and his lawyers have access to the case file, allowing for Tith to “potentially make some investigative requests”.

“There is not a presumption of trial just because someone has been charged,” Olsen added, explaining that the case must reach the end of the investigation phase before the decision to go to trial is made.

David Scheffer, the UN’s special expert on the tribunal, expressed a similar sentiment in an email yesterday, stating that “significant progress is being made in cases 003 and 004”, although “any closing order relating to either case is not expected for many months”.

However, cases 003 and 004 have long been publicly opposed by the government, with Prime Minister Hun Sen going as far as to say that pursuing them may spark a civil war.

The charges come a day after a meeting between Scheffer and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in which the progress, outcomes and funding of the ECCC were discussed.

According to a joint statement by Scheffer and An, currently, 62 per cent of the ECCC’s 2016 budget is accounted for in donations, but “further contributions are urgently required to fulfil the financial needs of the court”.http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/suspect-charged-krts-case-004

Former KR Official Ta Tith Charged With Genocide

CAMBODIA DAILY | BY GEORGE WRIGHT AND KHUON NARIM | DECEMBER 10, 2015

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Yim Tith and his wife, Ung Ken (DC-Cam)

Former Khmer Rouge official Yim Tith, more commonly known as Ta Tith, was on Wednesday charged with crimes including genocide in Case 004 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

Ta Tith, who stands accused of a slew of crimes allegedly committed during his time as acting secretary of the Khmer Rouge’s Northwest Zone, is the first suspect to be charged by International Co-Investigating Judge Michael Bohlander since he took over from Judge Mark Harmon in August.

Along with genocide against the Khmer Krom, an ethnic minority from Southern Vietnam, Ta Tith is accused of a wide range of crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture and forced marriage, according to a statement released by the ECCC.

Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal, said Ta Tith traveled from his home in Battambang province to face charges at the court on Wednesday.

“He was charged in person…at the court,” Mr. Olsen said. “After he was charged, he returned home with his lawyers and they now have full access to the case file and they can participate fully in the case.”

Mr. Olsen said he did not know whether an arrest warrant had been issued for Ta Tith.

The reclusive former cadre is believed to be responsible for crimes at more than 40 sites across the country. The alleged atrocities predominantly took place in the Northwest Zone, but also at sites in the Southwest Zone including the notorious Kraing Ta Chan security center in Takeo province, where an estimated 15,000 people perished.

Ta Tith is the fourth Khmer Rouge official to be charged in the government-opposed cases 003 and 004. Cambodian police have refused to execute arrest warrants issued by Judge Harmon last year for suspect Meas Muth, the Khmer Rouge navy commander, and Im Chaem, a former district chief.

Ta An—a deputy secretary in the regime’s Central Zone who stands accused alongside Ta Tith of running a network of security centers responsible for the deaths of some 140,000 people—has also been charged in Case 004.

Ta Tith made headlines in 2011 when reports emerged that American actress Angelina Jolie-Pitt had purchased land from the former Khmer Rouge official for her charitable foundation in Battambang.

Contacted after the charges were announced, Krom Mong, chief of Ta Tith’s home village of Toek Sap in Ratanak Mondol district’s Phlov Meas commune, said the former Khmer Rouge official rarely socialized with other locals.

“He is very old—he is about 82 or 83 years old—and he has problems with his eyes,” Mr. Mong said. “He is living with his wife and he has about 4 to 5 hectares of land.”

“He often stays at home and does not come outside to visit his neighbors,” he said, adding that Ta Tith moved to the village in 1998 after Khmer Rouge forces laid down their weapons in Samlot district.

“I can’t comment on him because I don’t know and didn’t see what he did in the past,” the village chief added.

Neither Ta Tith nor his lawyers could be reached on Wednesday.

Panhavuth Long, a court monitor with the Cambodian Justice Initiative, applauded the decision to charge Ta Tith, but said the likelihood of arrest or prosecution was low given ongoing government interference at the court.

“I would say that the elephant in the room is that the U.N. and the government need to address as soon as possible, or immediately, the political influence, as well as the non-cooperation from the Cambodian side.”

Despite the obstacles facing the court, Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the charges against Ta Tith show that the tribunal is still seeking justice for the crimes committed during the Democratic Kampuchea period.

“Despite all the storms, the floods, the court still stands and justice still stands, and that is something that perhaps is hopeful for the future of Cambodia.”

KRT Charges Second Suspect in Case 004

By | March 28, 2015 | The Cambodia Daily

Former Khmer Rouge official Ao An, better known by his alias “Ta An,” on Friday became the third mid-ranking cadre to be charged this month by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia over alleged crimes against humanity committed during the Pol Pot era.

More than five years after investigations into the case began, International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon charged Ta An with premeditated homicide and crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment and other inhumane acts. 

Ta An, who was a deputy secretary in the Central Zone of De­mocratic Kampuchea, has been accused together with Ta Tith—who has not been charged—of running a network of security centers responsible for the deaths of about 140,000 people.

The charges laid Friday relate to three locations in Kompong Cham province: Kok Pring execution site, Wat Au Trakuon security center and Tuol Beng security center.

Unlike former navy chief Meas Muth and Northwest Zone district commander Im Chaem, who were charged in absentia earlier this month, Ta An appeared at the court on Friday to be formally charged, according to Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“The charged person appeared this morning before Judge Har­mon and then was informed about the charges against him, and afterwards returned to his residence,” he said.

Mr. Olsen said he could not comment on why Ta An was charged in person while the other accused were not.

“All I can say is that Ta An answered a summons from the judge and appeared before Judge Harmon this morning,” he said.

The government has been steadfastly opposed to the pursuit of cases 003 and 004 against mid-ranking Khmer Rouge officials, and Cambodian Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng has refused to assist his international counterpart in the investigations.

In an email laying out Judge Bunleng’s position on the cases, court spokesman Neth Pheaktra​ said that the judge did not believe it necessary to charge the suspects in the current investigations because the evidence raised doubts as to whether or not the cases were in the court’s jurisdiction.

“The national co-investigating judges regards the investigation in case 003 for completed and he has forwarded the case file [to] the co-prosecutors for their final submission,” Mr. Pheaktra said.

“In case 004, the two co-investigating judges have, in accordance with the ECCC Internal Rules, recorded a disagreement which covers the issue of charging.”

Both the government and the U.N., which signed on to participate in the tribunal in 2003, have come under fire this week for failing to secure the arrests of Meas Muth and Im Chaem, who have both expressed defiance in the face of the charges against them.

Asked why Ta An was not detained after being charged, Mr. Olsen replied: “Charging and detention are two separate issues, so there’s no automatic step that a person who gets charged gets arrested.”

Ta An has been implicated in the killing of Cham Muslims at Wat Au Trakuon security center, which is a focus of genocide charges in the current trial of Pol Pot’s second-in-command Nuon Chea and former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan.

Now in his 80s and living in Battambang province’s Kamrieng district, Ta An could not be contacted Friday.

Goram Sluiter, one of Ta An’s lawyers, said the decision means that the defense team “finally” has access to the case file, which opens up the possibility of challenging sections of the case against his client.

“[I]n the past, we have filed motions that there is no jurisdiction for the court, because our client is not among the senior and most responsible persons, which is also the view of the Cambodian government, and that remains our position,” he said.

“Also, at the hearing our client stated that he is innocent, that he is not criminally responsible for the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime and that’s basically his position.”

Mak Sarin, the chief of O’Koki village, where Ta An lives, defended the former Khmer Rouge official on Friday.

“He was following their orders in that regime,” Mr. Sarin said. “I do not support the [charges] because we already have reunited and the country is peaceful.”

Heather Ryan, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, called the latest charges “evidence of steady progress in the investigation of Case 004.”

“It does, however, increase the need for the United Nations and the court to ensure that there is no political interference in the progress of Cases 003 and 004, particularly with respect to the arrest of suspects or charged persons,” she said in an email.

(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Ta An, the suspect in Case 004, was the head of Takeo province’s Kraing Ta Chan security center. Another Khmer Rouge official also known as Ta An was the head of Kraing Ta Chan.

The International Co-Investigating Judge charges Ao An in Case 004

Statement of the International Co-Investigating Judge regarding Case 004

On 27 March 2015, the International Co-Investigating Judge charged Ao An with the following alleged crimes: premeditated homicide, as a violation of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code, allegedly committed at Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security centre and Wat Au Trakuon security centre; and the Crimes against Humanity of murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts (namely inhumane conditions of detention) at Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security centre and Wat Au Trakuon security centre.

With the filing of these charges, the Internal Rules of the ECCC permit Ao An, through his lawyers, to have access to the case file and to participate in the investigation, thus accelerating its progress. This will allow the investigation to proceed with full respect of the rights of all parties and to conclude it within a reasonable time with the issuance of a closing order.