As the judicial investigation in two politically sensitive cases draws to a close, the Khmer Rouge tribunal announced Tuesday that a Bosnian lawyer has been appointed to represent crimes against humanity suspect Ta Tith.
Ta Tith, who stands accused of presiding over purges, arrests, killings and disappearances in his capacity as acting secretary of the Khmer Rouge’s Northwest Zone, is already represented by Cambodian lawyer So Mosseny, but now Suzana Tomanovic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been added to his legal team.
Both Mr. Mosseny and Ms. Tomanovic previously worked for former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary’s legal team as a case manager and a legal consultant, respectively. Ms. Tomanovic has also represented clients before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
All of the four surviving suspects in cases 003 and 004 are now represented by at least one lawyer, the majority of whom have served other roles at the Khmer Rouge tribunal before, and only Im Chaem lacks an international lawyer.
However, the issue of legal representation for the suspects has been fraught with infighting and political tension. Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng agrees with the government that the two cases should not be investigated, and has attempted to block the assignment of defense counsel for the suspects, even as the investigation against them proceeds on the international side of the court.
Due to these political tensions, none of the suspects’ lawyers has been granted access to the case file, making it impossible for them to monitor the progress of the judicial investigation against their clients. If the cases ever go to trial, these violations of the suspects’ rights could prove problematic.
Lawyers for two of the suspects, meanwhile, have been fighting protracted battles against the court’s efforts to remove them.
A confidential decision by Investigating Judge Mark Harmon last month removed lawyers Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom from representing Khmer Rouge navy chief Meas Muth, citing a conflict of interest with their late client Ieng Sary. Mr. Karnavas said Tuesday he was appealing the decision.
And Richard Rogers has been filing motions for nearly two years in an effort to be officially recognized as Ta An’s lawyer, after being removed from the case by the court’s defense section administrator, who said that he was unqualified.
© 2014, Julia Wallace. All rights reserved.