An Israeli lawyer has been hired to help the defense team of S-21 prison chairman Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, mount an appeal against his war crimes conviction, which a lawyer said could be filed as early as today.
Nick Kaufman, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, has joined the Duch defense as a short-term consultant to develop grounds for appeal, according to tribunal legal affairs spokesman Lars Olsen.
Mr Kaufman told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Monday that he had been asked to advise the team on international law “in light of the sensitive situation and Duch’s hesitance to cooperate with the international defense team.”
Kang Ritheary, who was hired this month after Duch sacked his French lawyer Francois Roux last month, said the tribunal’s defense support section had hired Mr Kaufman as an expert in international law.
Mr Ritheary said the defense appeal was to be filed as soon as today and would argue that the court lacked jurisdiction over Duch, as he was purportedly neither a senior regime leader nor among “those most responsible” for Khmer Rogue crimes.
Duch’s other Cambodian lawyer Kar Savuth made similar arguments on both the second day and the last day of trial, drawing a rebuke from former prosecutor Robert Petit, who pointed out that challenges to the court’s jurisdiction must be made no later than 30 days after an indictment.
Anne Heindel, a legal adviser to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the argument that Duch was not “most responsible” was unlikely to persuade the Supreme Court Chamber given his ties to senior Khmer Rouge leaders and the extent of the killing at S-21, where an estimated 14,000 prisoners were killed.
Ms Heindel added that a jurisdictional appeal seemed more like a “political statement” than a persuasive legal argument.
“It seems to be more getting at what Duch wants to say about his role than being a strong argument for reducing his sentence,” she said.