The Khmer Rouge tribunal has delayed the long-awaited appeal judgment in the first case against senior Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan for a second time, drawing criticism from civil party lawyers worried about the advanced age of their clients and the appellants.
The court released a revised Completion Plan late last month, revealing that the projected date for the Case 002/01 verdict has been pushed back 1 1/2 months until mid-August.
Marie Guiraud, international lead co-lawyer for the Civil Parties, said given that almost two years had passed since the trial judgment in July 2014, “any delay is concerning.”
Citing the advanced aged of the two appellants, Nuon Chea, 89, and Khieu Samphan, 84, as well as the ages of many of the civil parties, Ms. Guiraud said that more than 50 of the civil parties, who numbered 3,867 at the beginning of proceedings in 2007, had passed away waiting for a verdict.
“Managing their expectations—one of which being having a final verdict within their lifetime—is one of our main priorities,” she wrote in an email on Monday.
Civil parties, she noted, had not received a reply to an April 6 letter sent to the Supreme Court Chamber voicing similar concerns.
Since the August 2014 verdicts against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, which found them guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life imprisonment, a series of appeals and procedural motions have contributed to delays in the expected final judgment date.
The latest revision to the Completion Plan cites the “unexpected” decision of lawyers for Nuon Chea in November to comply with his request to boycott proceedings, which the plan says further slowed down the case. Illness to staff and the departure of a key consultant are also blamed for the delay.
Lars Olsen, a tribunal spokesman, said that the projected timelines did not represent mandatory deadlines, but rather best-case scenarios, which could be altered as deadlines approached to offer more accurate predictions.