Genocide Charges Delivered to Muth

Phnom Penh Post | Tuesday, 15 December 2015 | Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Meas Muth, a former navy chief of the Khmer Rouge, smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province earlier this year. Muth was charged with genocide yesterday by Khmer Rouge tribunal judge Michael Bohlander. Photo by: Vireak Mai

Meas Muth, a former navy chief of the Khmer Rouge, smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province earlier this year. Muth was charged with genocide yesterday by Khmer Rouge tribunal judge Michael Bohlander. Photo by: Vireak Mai

Case 003 suspect Meas Muth was charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Convention and homicide yesterday morning by Khmer Rouge tribunal international co-investigating judge Michael Bohlander in Battambang town.

Muth had already been charged in absentia in March by former international co-investigating judge Mark Harmon, and though a court spokesman declined yesterday to comment on specific changes to the charges, some differences were evident from the court’s statements.

Notably, yesterday’s charge of genocide had been absent from the previous set. However, Bohlander’s charges appear to exclude the grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of “wilful deprivation of a prisoner of war or civilian’s right to fair and regular trials” and “unlawful deportation or transfer”, both of which had been included in Harmon’s decision.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen declined to comment on the details of the changes to the accusations or why they were made, saying the matter was “confidential by law”. Olsen also said “no investigative requests [by the defence] have been made public”.

Bohlander yesterday travelled to Battambang to read Muth the charges, which also include the grave breaches of “wilful killing”, “wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”, torture and “unlawful confinement of civilians”.

He also accuses Muth of crimes against humanity, murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, persecution and inhumane acts – including inhumane treatment, forced labour, forced marriage and attacks on human dignity due to conditions of detention.

According to a statement from Bohlander’s office, the crimes were committed at “various security centres”, including S-21 and Wat Enta Nhien, as well as at the Stung Hav worksite and worksites at the Ream area cooperative, and in present-day Preah Sihanouk province.

The statement also says Muth is accused of crimes committed “by the Navy of Democratic Kampuchea in and around the islands claimed by Democratic Kampuchea”, and crimes committed “against members of Division 164, 502, 117, and 310”.

Yesterday’s charges invalidated Harmon’s, along with two orders the former judge had issued to bring Muth to Phnom Penh to hear the charges against him.

The orders had generated controversy when Cambodian authorities declined to act on either, which observers took to be evidence of government interference given its longstanding opposition to cases 003 and 004.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre himself, had previously warned that cases 003 and 004 going to trial could spark civil war.

In an email yesterday, Muth’s international defence lawyer Michael Karnavas said his team has had access to the case file since March.

“Mr Meas Muth has been cooperating all along. It is nonsense to report otherwise,” Karnavas said, explaining why Muth had voluntarily appeared to hear the charges.

“He did not recognise Harmon’s summons since he was acting unilaterally and to our knowledge without the consent or approval or support of the national co-investigating judge.

We were also of the opinion that Harmon was acting as a prosecutor and not as a fair and objective investigating judge.”

However, as with Harmon’s charges, the statement from judge Bohlander appeared to be issued without the participation of his national counterpart, You Buleng.

The fresh charges against Muth come just days after Case 004 suspect Yim Tith was charged, also in a unilateral decision by Bohlander.

Mr Meas Muth charged in Case 003

Posted 14 December 2015 by ECCC

On 14 December 2015, the International Co-Investigating Judge charged Mr Meas Muth with the following alleged crimes:

  • Genocide;
  • Crimes against Humanity, namely murder; extermination; enslavement; imprisonment; torture; persecution; other inhumane acts (inhumane treatment, enforced disappearances, forced labour, forced marriage, rape and attacks on human dignity due to conditions of detention);
  • Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, namely wilful killing; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, torture and unlawful confinement of civilians.
  • Violations of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code, namely premeditated homicide.

These crimes were allegedly variously committed

  • at various security centres, among them the S-21 Security Centre (Tuol Sleng),
  • additionally against members of Divisions 164, 502, 117, and 310,
  • at Wat Enta Nhien Security Centre,
  • at Stung Hav worksite,
  • by the Navy of Democratic Kampuchea in and around the islands claimed by Democratic Kampuchea,
  • at the Ream area co-operative including worksites at Kang Keng and Bet Trang, the Durian Plantation Execution Site, and the Toek Sap Security Centre, and
  • in Kampong Som.

A number of charges from the Decision of 3 March 2015 charging him in absentia were rescinded. That decision has now become moot, as is the arrest warrant of 10 December 2014. The arrest warrant of 4 June 2015 was rescinded, since Mr Meas Muth appeared voluntarily at the hearing.

Suspect charged in KRT’s Case 004



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”.

Former KR Official Ta Tith Charged With Genocide



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.”

“Were you a cadre yourself?” – Defense Counsel Confronts Civil Party

Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, December 3 2015 by Leonie Kijewski, LLM (Maastricht)

Today, December 03 2015, Civil Party Prak Doeun concluded his testimony. He gave more details about the killing of his family. Nuon Chea Defense Counsel tried to find out whether Mr. Doeun had been forced to kill his wife and was therefore not telling the truth, and whether Mr. Doeun had in fact be a cadre on the island he was stationed on. Next, witness Sao Sak provided her testimony and told the Court how her mother, who was of Vietnamese descent, was arrested and killed.

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