Khmer Rouge tribunal prosecutors on Monday sought to prevent lawyers for three of the court’s detainees from arguing against the use of a prosecution tactic that defense attorneys fear could be used to hold them jointly responsible for crimes.
Lawyers for former Khmer Rouge Minister of Social Action Ieng Thirith, former head of state Khieu Samphan and Brother No 2 Nuon Chea last week asked for permission to argue against the use of joint criminal enterprise in the indictment of fellow detainee and former S-21 prison chairman Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch.
Tribunal prosecutors are arguing that Duch should be charged with membership in such a criminal enterprise, which could allow for him to be held responsible for crimes carried out by others at S-21. The court is due to decide on the prosecution request next month.
Lawyers for Duch, however, are not opposing the use of joint criminal enterprise. But attorneys for all of the tribunal’s remaining Khmer Rouge detainees fear that if Duch is indicted under joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine could later be applied to their clients.
Prosecutors have since the outset alleged that all five regime detainees were engaged in a joint criminal enterprise for the violent and ideological reform of Cambodia during the Pol Pot years.
Co-Prosecutors Robert Petit and Chea Leang contend in a brief filed Monday that only Duch’s lawyers can argue in the Duch case, regardless of whether or not the rulings in the case will concern other defendants.
The tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber has already refused to allow lawyers for former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary to argue against indicting Duch under joint criminal enterprise, also determining that other defendants have no standing to intervene in Duch’s case.
But in their motion jointly filed last week, lawyers for Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith argued that the matter clearly applies to other defendants, who should be heard.