26.08.2016 ( Last modified: 27.02.2017 )
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Yim Tith was born in the Tram Kâk district of Takeo province in Cambodia. He is married to Ung Ken, the sister of the accused Ta Mok.
Buddhist monk in Takeo and Phnom Penh at first, Tith then became a member of the Cambodian Communist Party in the 1960s. During the 1970-1975 civil war, Tith became a high profile leader of the Kirivong district.
In 1976, Tith allegedly became party secretary of the Kirivong district. Reportedly, he exercised effective control over the individuals, security centres and other crime sites in the area. At the Kraing Ta Chan security centre, it is estimated that almost 15’000 individuals – so-called enemies of the regime and its ideology- were imprisoned, tortured and killed under his authority.
In 1977 and 1978, Tith and Mok are suspected to have planned and initiated a massive purge against the Northwest Zone cadres. Tith allegedly assumed the positions of leader of the Northwest Zone, Secretary of Sector 1 of the Northwest Zone and Deputy Secretary of the Northwest Zone Committee. Upon his arrival, it is believed that the number of arrests, killings and disappearances dramatically increased. He also supposedly became a member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea Central Committee at the 5th Party Congress.
On 7 September 2009, the international Co-Prosecutor of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) requested that the Co-investigating Judges initiate an investigation of five additional suspects. They are referred to as case 003 and case 004. Case 004 is conducted on Tith, Im Chaem and Ao An for the crimes allegedly committed between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.
The German Co-investigating judge, Siegfried Blunk, resigned in October 2011 due to pressure from the Cambodian government to close cases 003 and 004.
On 9 December 2015, Tith was charged with four counts:
– genocide of Khmer Krom;
– crimes against humanity, namely murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation; imprisonment; torture; persecution against numerous groups, and in particular 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; and
– violations of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code, namely premeditated homicide.
These crimes were allegedly committed in numerous security centres and execution sites across the country, especially within the central and northwest zones.
Contrary to Chaem, Tith voluntarily appeared before the Co-investigating judge. However, he was not detained after being formally charged.
On 13 May 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution approving a proposed agreement reached between the UN and Cambodia concerning the prosecution of those holding major responsibility for the crimes committed between 1975 and 1979 (A/RES/57/228/B). The agreement provided for the setting up of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), integrated into the existing judicial system, and in which International judges would also preside. The court would be funded by voluntary contributions.
On 4 October 2004, the Cambodian Nation Assembly ratified this treaty. On 27 October 2004, the treaty was proclaimed into law by the King. The ECCC has jurisdiction with respect to crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the violations of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property.
In 8 May 2006, 17 Cambodian and 12 international judges to the ECCC were appointed by royal decree. And in 7 July 2006 the ECCC announced the establishment of a defenders council staffs by foreign lawyers to ensure adequate defence.
On 18 July 2007, the Co-prosecutors of the ECCC announced that they had transferred to the ECCC judges the files of five suspects, expected to be tried notably for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, homicide, torture and religious persecution. The investigating judges (a foreign and a Cambodian judge) were then to examine the cases and decide whether and which of the suspects would be tried by the ECCC.
On 31 July 2007, Guek Eav Kaing, “Duch” became the first suspect to be arrested and detained by the ECCC and on 26 July 2010, the Trial Chamber found him guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, sentencing him to 35 years of imprisonment. On 16 September 2010 the ECCC indicted Thirith Ieng, Sary Ieng, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and murder.