Lawyers for Khmer Rouge second-in-command Nuon Chea have filed a motion with the Khmer Rouge tribunal to admit as evidence a video recording of a trial judge stating publicly that the court was not “totally fair.”
At a symposium organized last year by the Aspen Institute in Washington, Judge Silvia Cartwright gave a talk in which she candidly discussed her views on the proceedings underway at the tribunal.
“[The proceedings] are showing how a ‘fairish’ trial can be conducted. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a totally fair trial, and it’s really difficult in this environment,” she said in a video available on the Aspen Institute’s website.
Judge Cartwright goes on to say that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government “would quite like us to go away now, please,” and that the government has put pressure on the court to limit the number of people tried at the tribunal.
She adds that her Cambodian colleagues on the bench struggled to remain impartial because of their own experiences under the Khmer Rouge.
“Certainly on the bench, the judges around me make really, you know, I can’t understand what they are saying, but I imagine it’s very rude comments about some of the evidence. And you can hear them sort of growling in antagonism to some of the things they are hearing,” she says.
Later she continues, “I can hear them growling; they don’t lose their impassive face, but I can hear them.”
Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn declined to comment Wednesday on Judge Cartwright’s remarks.
“I do not answer questions with the press,” Judge Nonn said.
The other two Cambodian judges in the Trial Chamber could not be reached for comment, while Judge Cartwright did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
In its filing, Nuon Chea’s defense team argues that Judge Cartwright’s talk at the Aspen Institute was evidence of her bias against Nuon Chea prior to the Trial Chamber’s handing down a guilty verdict last month in the first phase of Case 002.
“These statements were made publicly prior to the issuance of the Case 002/01 Judgment and accordingly bear on the public’s reasonable apprehension of her bias against both the [Communist Party of Kampuchea] and Nuon Chea,” the motion says.
Also in the video, in a section not highlighted by Nuon Chea’s lawyers in their filing, Judge Cartwright says the trials in Case 002 “will just peter out” because “the two remaining accused will die or become unfit.”
She also criticizes the Supreme Court Chamber for failing to support the Trial Chamber’s plan for separating Case 002 into multiple phases.
Judge Cartwright stepped down from her position this month after seven years at the court. She has previously come under fire from defense lawyers for holding a series of secret meetings with former Co-Prosecutor Andrew Cayley from which the defense was excluded.
Nuon Chea’s lawyers are also seeking to admit as evidence a book by former Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde in which he recounts his difficulty pursuing two cases opposed by the government.
(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)