Khmer Rouge Tribunal Defense Claims Samphan Lacked ‘Criminal Intent’

During the second full day of appeal hearings in the first phase of Case 002 at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday, the defense team for Khieu Samphan, the re­gime’s head of state, said judges had bent the rules of international law in order to justify the conviction of their client for crimes against humanity.

Anta Guisse, Khieu Samphan’s lead international lawyer, told the tribunal’s Supreme Court that pros­ecutors had failed to present evidence directly linking her client to crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge, leaving judges to rely on tenuous legal precedent in their guilty verdict.

“The perpetrator must have the intent to commit a crime, and the Nuremberg case law agrees with that,” she said, citing the trials of senior Nazi leaders following World War II.

“Never, never, does the [Trial] Chamber provide the evidence that Khieu Samphan cooperated with the Democratic Kampuchea Re­gime with the purpose of committing a crime.”

Discussing the use of “joint crim­inal enterprise”—a legal doctrine that allows those with shared crim­inal intent to be found guilty of crimes committed by others—Ms. Guisse accused prosecutors and judges of “lowering the bar” in their verdict, which was delivered in August 2014.

International co-prosecutor Ni­cholas Koumjian told the court that Ms. Guisse had “complicated” the issue of joint criminal enterprise.

While agreeing that the regime’s aim to build a “radical agrarian” Cambodia was not necessarily crim­inal, Mr. Koumjian maintained that senior Khmer Rouge leaders had “clearly contemplated the use of criminal means to achieve their objective.”

Mr. Koumjian said the prosecution had successfully ar­gued during the trial that the de­fendants had understood the “sub­stantial likelihood” that crimes would be committed as a result of their decisions to evacuate ur­ban centers.

As on Monday, the defense team for Nuon Chea, who was al­so found guilty in the first phase of Case 002, did not participate in proceedings.

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