Phnom Penh (dpa) – The top foreign judge of the international tribunal investigating Khmer Rouge suspects in Cambodia announced Tuesday he was resigning.
International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon was “for strictly personal reasons,” and would take effect from his successor’s appointment.
Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said no date for the new appointment was fixed, and Harmon’s resignation “has nothing to do with the more recent development in the cases,” the Cambodia Daily reported.
The US judge in March brought two new cases against former Khmer Rouge leaders, which were both opposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Former Khmer Rouge navy commander Meas Muth was charged with “murder, extermination, enslavement, persecution on political and ethnic grounds, and other inhumane acts” at detention centres and elsewhere.
Harmon also charged Im Chaem, a former regional leader of the regime, with leading purges and other war crimes in relation to the work detail she was overseeing.
The charges in the two cases, numbered 003 and 004, respectively, were opposed by Hun Sen, himself a Khmer Rouge cadre before defecting and joining the Vietnamese invasion that ousted the regime.
They were not endorsed by Harmon’s Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng.
The ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge ruled between 1975 and 1979 and saw an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians executed or die from starvation and overwork in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.
Case 001 saw Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, sentenced to life in prison in August for his role in overseeing the prison and torture center known as S-21.
Case 002, against Khmer Rouge ideologues Brother Number 2 Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan, is currently in a delayed appeal against the life sentences handed down to both last year.