"Focus on the essentials"

10 July 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

Interview with Marcel Lemonde, co-investigating judge for the Khmer Rouge trials

The Cambodian Extraordinary Chambers, which were established to try Khmer Rouge leaders, officially began working on July 10. Marcel Lemonde, who stepped down as presiding judge of a section of the Paris court of appeal to become co-investigating judge, was sworn in on July 3 in Phnom Penh.

The Extraordinary Chambers form the first international tribunal based on the inquisitorial system. How long will it take to complete a trial?

One of the tribunal's strong points is that the procedure is based on French law rather than Anglo-Saxon law. When you look at what is going on at The Hague and at all the other international tribunals, you see that the trials are never-ending. The Milosevic trial is a perfect example. This is precisely what we are trying to avoid. The preparatory stage will of course be longer, but the hearings will be much shorter, so it seems reasonable to think that the whole process will be done within three years. That is what is budgeted. It is difficult to know how long the preparation of the cases will last since this also depends on the defense and the investigations. We are hoping that the first trials will begin in 2007. There will not be a 3-year preparatory phase followed by trial hearings. There will be a succession of cases brought to trial for various crimes. My only hope is that we start in 2007. I cannot be any more specific than that.

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