INTERVIEW: Prlić et al. in retrospect

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Gloria Lujanović

I was recently contacted by Gloria Lujanović, a journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina working for and asked whether I would be willing to answer some questions about the Prlić et al. case now that six months have passed since the appeals judgment was rendered.  Presumably she was interested in whether my views have evolved. Might my perspective (see here, here and here) be different now that I have had some distance from that fateful day when General Slobodan Praljak defiantly (I would say honorably) took his life, rather than accept what he (and others, such as myself) believed were the unjust results of a terribly flawed trial that yielded an error-riddled judgment – a judgment which, regrettably, the Appeals Chamber failed to cure? On 30 March 2018, Ms. Lujanović posted the Q&A in Karnavas: Alija Izetbegović je trebao na optuženičku klupu, suđenje hercegbosanskoj šestorci farsa, nalik cirkusu / Karnavas: Alija Izetbegović should have been prosecuted, the trial against the six from Herceg-Bosnia was a farce, and resembled a circus.

Here is the English version of the Q&A: Continue reading “INTERVIEW: Prlić et al. in retrospect”


Opinion: Due Process Not Negotiable, Even in Khmer Rouge Tribunal

On May 15, 2017, The Cambodia Daily published an opinion piece by Michael G. Karnavas.  The piece appears below:

The Cambodia Daily

Opinion: Due Process Not Negotiable, Even in Khmer Rouge Tribunal

MAY 15, 2017

By Michael G. Karnavas 1   Michael G. Karnavas is a criminal defense lawyer. He was the co-lawyer for Ieng Sary at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and is now Meas Muth’s international co-lawyer in Case 003 at the ECCC.

Last week it was revealed that the Co-Investigating Judges (CIJ) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) confidentially informed the parties in Cases 003, 004, and 004/02 and the Office of Administration that they were considering invoking what amounts to a nuclear option: a permanent stay of the proceedings due to a lack of funding. Submissions were invited.

Court-watchers and “experts” immediately weighed in with claims of political interference. Judge Martin Karopkin, a reserve Judge of the Trial Chamber, joined the fray. Disquieting as his remarks may be, I admire Judge Karopkin’s honesty. Continue reading “Opinion: Due Process Not Negotiable, Even in Khmer Rouge Tribunal”


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Cambodia Daily publishes Karnavas commentary on US Senate pressure on ECCC to indict in Case 003

On 6 July 2016, The Cambodia Daily published a commentary by Michael G. Karnavas on US Senate Appropriations Committee Bill S.3117.1section 7043(c)(2  The bill, as explained in the Committee’s Report, seeks to tie US funding of the ECCC to the indictment of Mr. Meas Muth in Case 003. Mr. Karnavas calls out the bill’s drafters on their disregard for international standards of justice and respect for the rule of law, and for their lack of understanding of the very procedural rules with which they seek to tamper.

Inducing Case 003 Outcome: US Purse Strings Wielded as a Whip


Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill: S.3117. Buried 221 pages into that bill is a provision that would stop U.S. contributions to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia unless the U.S. secretary of state certifies and reports to the committee that the ECCC “will consider Case 003.” Continue reading “Cambodia Daily publishes Karnavas commentary on US Senate pressure on ECCC to indict in Case 003”


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Judgement by essay at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia results in public apology

On 2 December 2015, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) published its November Court Report. The PAS saw fit to include in the Court Report an essay titled “Exploring Transgenerational Justice at the ECCC”, which was published without attribution. In the essay, which discussed PAS interviews of high school students and senior citizens about their perspectives on trauma and justice, the author reached some astonishing conclusions about crimes purportedly committed from 1975 to 1979 (the period in which the Khmer Rouge governed Cambodia). In the author’s view, “some of the most gruesome crimes against humanity were perpetrated [in the years between 1975 and 1979]” and, “[d]espite having only second-hand information about the genocide perpetrated in their nation, [students] envision a peaceful Cambodia similar to the pre-1975 Cambodian society.”1ECCC Court Report, November 2015, Issue 91, p. 2 (emphasis added). Continue reading “Judgement by essay at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia results in public apology”


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Associated Press quotes Karnavas on eve of Khmer Rouge verdict

photogallery6-michael-courtroom-18-jul-12-3On the eve of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Trial Chamber’s pronouncement of the judgement in Case 002/01 against KHIEU Samphan and NUON Chea, the Associated Press asked experts, including Michael Karnavas, to discuss the significance of the trial.

Read the story:  With verdicts due, experts explain importance of trial of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge leaders


Al Jazeerah article quotes Karnavas on ECCC aspiration vs. actuality

ECCC_LogoI was recently asked by journalist Julia Wallace to provide some thoughts for an article she was writing for Al Jazeera, focusing whether the ECCC has had a positive impact on the Cambodian court system.  Though I was quoted correctly and reasonably in context, much of what I had provided was lost during the editing process. Since the article came out ( some have commented that my views are overly harsh and dismissive, or that I fail to acknowledge the challenges in Cambodia.   I think not, but you be the judge.  Here is the full text of what I provided to Ms. Wallace for the Al Jazeera article:

I have been involved in various projects over the past 20 years dealing with the Cambodian judicial system.  I am also a big supporter of harvesting what is useful and applicable from the ECCC, both procedurally and substantively, and to apply it in the regular courts.  (See my article, based on my presentation at the ECCC legacy conference: Bringing Domestic Cambodian Cases into Compliance with International Standards – Applicability of ECCC Jurisprudence and Procedural Mechanisms at the Domestic Level, posted on my blog  With this as a backdrop, I’ll attempt to provide some answers to your questions.

Continue reading “Al Jazeerah article quotes Karnavas on ECCC aspiration vs. actuality”


The Cambodia Daily Publishes Karnavas Op Ed: KRT Judges Maintain Pretense of Interest in Next Mini-Trial

KRT Judges Maintain Pretense of Interest in Next Mini-Trial

– December 16, 2013

By Michael G. Karnavas

During the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia’s (ECCC) Trial Management Meeting on Case 002, held December 11 and 12, the Trial Chamber entertained us with a marvelously farcical tragedy: Nothing ado about much, or, Why there will not be a Case 002/02, although we will pretend there will be one to keep hope alive.

It was captivating to see (and hear) how the judges came armed with all the answers as to why they could not possibly begin to hear evidence in Case 002/02 (as if they had even figured out what segments of Case 002 would even be heard) before completing the judgment in Case 002/01.

Where have they been, and what have they been doing? When did this occur to them? Why was this issue not addressed during the protracted (albeit belated) hearings on the legitimacy of the severance of Case 002? Why the pretense of this public trial management meeting? And, why delay discussing the proverbial elephant in the (court)room: When and to what extent will the next segment of Case 002 be tried?

Regrettably, this farcical comedy was about a real tragedy: The current judges of the ECCC’s Trial Chamber are not genuinely serious in trying the remaining segments of Case 002.

Continue reading “The Cambodia Daily Publishes Karnavas Op Ed: KRT Judges Maintain Pretense of Interest in Next Mini-Trial”


News and Events

This chapter considers whether the ad hoc nature of ICC trial proceedings risks undermining the ICC’s credibility. The Rome Statute and the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence have sufficient constructive ambiguity as to how trials should be conducted such that, depending on the serendipitous composition of the Trial Chamber, trials can be shaped in a more ‘adversarial’ or more ‘inquisitorial’ fashion. This malleability, which may have been the result of a diplomatic compromise, has resulted in ad hoc trial proceedings at the ICC; no two trials are: conducted in the same manner. Since the hallmarks of any good court are uniformity, predictability, and reliability in its proceedings, does this feature, which is unique to the ICC, risk undermining the legitimacy of the ICC’s judgments and, inexorably, the ICC itself?

Continue reading “News and Events”

The New RPE 134 Provisions: cowardly capitulation or pragmatic resolution?

ASP_2013Much of the commentary on the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) added provisions to Rules 134 (bis, ter and quater) of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), which ease the requirement for an accused to be physically present at trial, has been disdainful. But before we consider potential effects of these new provisions, or lack thereof, let’s first look at the substance.  Does the ICC Statute permit the Rules to be amended so accused – political leaders, no less – can be excused from attending parts of their trials due to “exceptional circumstances” or because of “extraordinary public duties”?  Were the amendments necessary?  Did the ASP exercise sound judgment?  Though the answers to these questions seem to be yes, guarded cynicism is justified.  From time to time, trial chambers will no doubt be tempted by the political siren calls for accommodation and realpolitik.  Implementing these added provisions to Rule 134 will require prudence, finesse and judiciousness. As they saying goes: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Continue reading “The New RPE 134 Provisions: cowardly capitulation or pragmatic resolution?”


WSJ Features Michael Karnavas on Future of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

28 Oct 13 — The Wall Street Journal’s on-line edition of Southeast Asia – Real Time featured Michael Karnavas in a Q&A on the Future of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Michael Karnavas, an American defense lawyer, has spent more than a third of his 30-year career in international criminal justice, representing defendants in war crimes tribunals at The Hague and in Cambodia.    Click here to read the rest of the article.