Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Resume Monday; Khieu Samphan’s Team to Boycott

One month after Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan forced the adjournment of their genocide trial by instructing their lawyers to boycott proceedings, the tribunal is scheduled to resume Monday—but with at least one defense team absent.

Lawyers for 83-year-old Khieu Samphan, the regime’s former head of state, are planning to continue boycotting the Case 002/02 trial in order to prepare for his appeal against a guilty verdict in the first part of the trial.

One of his international lawyers, Anta Guisse, said that while Khieu Samphan had no choice if the tribunal required him to appear, his defense team would not be in the courtroom Monday.

“I know there’s a question of [whether] we are wanting to delay the process, but that’s really not our position…. The only thing we are trying to do is preserve the rights of our client,” she said, adding that his lawyers had filed a submission with the tribunal on Friday outlining their reasons for staying away.

Earlier this month, trial judges warned both defense teams they would face “firm action” if they continued to drag out their boycott.

Nuon Chea, 88, Pol Pot’s second-in-command, told the tribunal last month that he would instruct his lawyers not to attend the hearings in Case 002/02 until his application for the dismissal of four judges who found him guilty in the first part of the trial was heard.

A special panel of judges on Friday released a decision dismissing both his application and a similar application made by his co-defendant, with Judge Rowan Downing dissenting in both cases.

Victor Koppe, the international lawyer for Nuon Chea, said Sunday that he expected to return to the court Monday in the wake of the decision, but had yet to confirm his client’s instructions.

“The decision of the disqualification was issued at 5 o’clock on Friday and we haven’t really had a chance to speak to him, [and won’t] until Monday morning, but given that his position has always been clear it’s likely that he will instruct us to come back,” Mr. Koppe said.

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