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.