Appeal Hearings Get Underway at Khmer Rouge Tribunal

With appeal proceedings finally get­ting underway at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday, prosecutors rejected claims from the de­fense teams for Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan that their clients had been at the center of a show trial meant only to find them guilty.

On the first day of scheduled hear­ings in November, proceedings were postponed following a walk­out by Nuon Chea and his team.

Khieu Samphan attends an appeal hearing at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Tuesday. (ECCC)
Khieu Samphan attends an appeal hearing at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Tuesday. (ECCC)

Son Arun, the national lawyer for Pol Pot’s former deputy, was pres­ent in court on Tuesday but instructed not to “actively participate” in the hearings, according to Doreen Chen, Nuon Chea’s senior legal consultant.

Taking a break from hearings in the second phase of Case 002 against the two senior Khmer Rouge leaders, defense attorneys and prosecutors argued the merits of the guilty verdict handed down in the first phase of the case in Au­gust 2014.

Tuesday’s hearing focused on the fairness of the proceedings, the constitutionality of the internal rules and the overall approach to evidence.

Khieu Samphan’s lawyers ar­gued that the Trial Chamber had fail­ed in its duty to remain impartial.

“Convicting Khieu Samphan was the goal. He had to be convicted be­fore he passed on,” international law­yer Anta Guisse said of her 85-year-old client.

“The question is not so much on what evidence the chamber relied on, but what they did with the evidence,” she told the court. “The pur­pose of the trial was nev­er really to try him, but to sentence him and con­vict him.”

William Smith, deputy international co-prosecutor, said that even if some errors had occurred during the trial, the overall evidence presented during the trial was “ab­solutely and fundamentally fair.”

“What Khieu Samphan hasn’t shown is how these errors, if they ex­isted, compounded each other to in­validate the rights of their client,” he told the court.

Smith’s colleague, national co-prosecutor Chea Leang, described the evi­dence against the two appellants as “simply overwhelming.”

She dismissed repeated complaints from Nuon Chea’s defense team claiming that the court has at­tempted to prevent him from telling his version of events.

“He chose to remain silent, which is his right. But it is disingenuous to exert his right to re­main si­lent, and then tell the public that he has not been able to tell his side of the story,” she said.

“The defense failed, not be­cause the trial chamber was un­fair, but ra­ther that the evidence showed that these crimes were committed, and that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan played key roles, making them criminally re­sponsible.”

Appeal hearings before the Su­preme Court continue today.

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