The Khmer Rouge tribunal was adjourned Thursday only hours after hearings resumed in the second phase of Case 002 as Khieu Samphan was taken to the hospital suffering from dizziness and high blood pressure.
Anta Guisse, international co-lawyer for the 83-year-old, said late Thursday afternoon that her client was unlikely to return to court today after he was taken to Phnom Penh’s Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.
“We hope to have news during the evening or tomorrow morning before the hearing, but we were not even allowed to meet him before his transfer to the hospital since the doctor thought he was too weak to talk,” Ms. Guisse wrote in an email.
The tribunal’s legal communications officer, Lars Olsen, said that Khieu Samphan was expected to remain in the hospital for observation over the next “two to three days.”
Proceedings in Case 002/02—in which the former regime head of state faces charges of genocide for the first time alongside Pol Pot’s lieutenant, Nuon Chea—have been stalled since the case opened in October as Khieu Samphan’s defense team boycotted proceedings while preparing an appeal against his life sentence handed down for crimes against humanity in the case’s first phase.
Thursday’s lunchtime adjournment followed just 1 1/2 hours of testimony from the first witness to take the stand in Case 002/02, which is also hearing evidence relating to forced marriages, rape and the treatment of Buddhists during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
Meas Sokha, a farmer who as a teenager was incarcerated by the Khmer Rouge in Takeo province’s infamous Kraing Ta Chan prison, recounted how he and members of his family were arrested in Tram Kak—a Khmer Rouge “model district” overseen by Ta Mok—after some of them were involved in an attempt to depose a local village chief in 1976.
Along with 11 other family members, Mr. Sokha said, he was detained in an interim security facility called Ang Roka before being sent to Kraing Ta Chan, where a friend informed him that his father—who was arrested a day earlier—had already been taken away to be killed.
“When I arrived at Kraing Ta Chan I didn’t see my father and I met Yin Sin, who told me, ‘Your father was taken away and left only his lighter’ and that he was very severely tortured before he was taken,” Mr. Sokha told the tribunal.
As Mr. Sokha was beginning to outline the prison’s layout, which he claimed the Khmer Rouge was planning on expanding, the hearing broke for lunch and was then adjourned.
Prior to the witness testimony, Khieu Samphan and his defense team decried the judges’ decision to hire new “standby” lawyers for their client in the wake of their recent boycott of proceedings, and called for the Trial Chamber to reconsider the move.
“This is one of the tricks to prevent my counsel from performing their career here in full force,” Khieu Samphan said.