Victor Koppe, defense counsel for Nuon Chea, has again been referred to the Amsterdam Bar Association for alleged professional misconduct following an interview in which he labeled a judge biased, incompetent and dumb, according to a letter obtained on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Mekong Review literary journal earlier this month, Mr. Koppe ramped up his criticism of Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne.
“If you’re in that courtroom day in day out, you know…it’s unbearable, day in day out, to be faced with that French judge, who is the ultimate combination of bias, incompetence and dumbness,” he said.
A letter to the Amsterdam bar from Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn, dated February 19, identifies a number of objectionable quotes from the interview, including Mr. Koppe’s claim that the Judge Lavergne “is on an active path to try and prevent [Nuon Chea’s] story being told.”
“The Trial Chamber now wishes to advise you of further behaviour by Mr. Victor Koppe since December 11, 2015 which, in the Trial Chamber’s opinion, appears to constitute professional misconduct before the ECCC,” the latest letter reads.
This is the second time Mr. Koppe has been referred to his home bar association in less than three months. During a hearing in August, he accused Judge Lavergne of making “cowardly decisions” and lacking “judicial integrity.” The Trial Chamber sent a letter to his bar in December after deciding he had ignored a warning to “correct his behavior.”
Judge Lavergne has not publicly responded to the lawyer’s criticism.
Mr. Koppe said in an email on Tuesday that he was “not bothered at all” by the latest referral.
“I also believe it’s well within the range of my free speech rights. But more importantly: my remarks are the result of having been a defence counsel at this tribunal for more than 8 years now. For all that time I kept silent. I swallowed my criticism as much as I could. Not anymore,” he said.