Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday urged the court to proceed with the second phase of Case 002 and for it to include all remaining charges against the two surviving regime leaders.
The defense team for former head of state Khieu Samphan, however, said the second part of the trial should wait until a final judgement is delivered in the first—which pertains mainly to the evacuation of Phnom Penh.
But with both defendants in their eighties, the prosecution said staying the second phase of the trial until the verdict in the first—due in the next few months—has gone through the appeal process could prove risky.
“We ask that you reject [Khieu Samphan’s] application to stay the trial,” said Deputy Co-Prosecutor William Smith.
“It substantially delays the process against himself and Nuon Chea for no legitimate reason. Postponing the start of the second trial until after delivery of the appeal judgment in the first trial…will not make the second trial fairer or more expeditious. It will only substantially delay process making further accountability for crimes charged more likely.”
In terms of scope, International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian added later that “all parties agree that this should be the last trial in the case,” thereby justifying the necessity to “cover all of the important charges remaining.”
The Supreme Court Chamber has ordered that these include the charges related to genocide, the S-21 security center in Phnom Penh, a worksite, and a cooperative.
The defense team for Khieu Samphan argued Tuesday that hearings would be no more expeditious if they proceed as the prosecutors suggest.
“How do you intend to use the first trial as a foundation if it has not culminated in a final judgment?” he asked. “We will have to wait for that foundation to be solidly built before we start the next trial—that is pure logic.”
The defense for former chief ideologue Nuon Chea, disagreed with Khieu Samphan’s defense.
Nuon Chea’s defense counsel Victor Koppe reiterated calls for the case to proceed as soon as possible and afford his client the ability to introduce exculpatory evidence to support his case.
“Ultimately we do not support the request to wait for Case 002/02, because it’s not what our client wants,” he said.
“Our client is very anxious to start and tell his story without artificial constraints on the scope of the evidence. It can and should begin as soon as possible.”