The Trial Chamber at the Khmer Rouge tribunal said Friday that a second trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan could proceed more expeditiously under the same panel of judges who are now deliberating a verdict in their first trial.
The announcement in a memo released by the court came after two Trial Management Meetings were held earlier this month on the issue, following an order from the Supreme Court Chamber that the establishment of a second panel of judges should be explored.
Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn said in his memo to the court’s administrators that to convene another panel of judges would take more time, and that he was unsure whether or not he had the legal power to set it up.
He said that taking both of these considerations into account, “It is apparent that appointing a second Trial Chamber panel to hear the remaining charges in Case 002/02 is not in the interests of justice, since it would be less expeditious than proceeding with the existing bench, who are already familiar with the case,” Judge Nonn wrote.
He added that a work plan for the trial, which will focus on genocide, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, would be issued “as soon as possible.”
Long Panhavuth, a program officer for the Cambodian Justice Initiative, which monitors the court, said the decision was a welcome turn of events.
“We welcome the decision of the Trial Chamber that says the new panel is not an option,” Mr. Panhavuth said.
“We also welcome that the president will issue a schedule very soon.”
But he said he is still concerned as to when the trial will actually get underway, and said Judge Nonn missed an opportunity to speed things up by not asking the different legal parties to submit their proposals about the scope of the second phase of the trial.