How final are ECCC decisions?

[Sent to the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily on February 13. Printed in the Post on February 20, 2012.]

Leaving aside Judge Kasper-Ansermet’s claim to be a co-investigating judge of the ECCC without having been appointed by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, does anyone besides me find it strange that his first proposed action is to reopen an investigation already concluded by his predecessor?

If that is permissible, what does it mean for other ECCC decisions? If one of the judges of the ECCC Supreme Court finds it necessary to resign, can his/her replacement decide to reopen the recent ruling on Case 001? Or if one of the Trial Chamber judges resigns, can the new judge decide that Duch’s lawyers’ disagreements with each other messed up his case on the final day of his trial, so, in the interests of fairness, that day’s proceedings should be re-run?

If so, then this creates some problems for Cambodian and international NGOs: should they support the appointment of the reserve in such a situation? Clearly, it is incumbent on the reserve judges of all chambers to ease the NGOs’ decisions by indicating well in advance what they would rule in any impending case —as Judge Kasper-Ansermet did on his Twitter page.

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