Anticipating their client’s indictment as early as this month, lawyers for Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, called Monday for a stay of the proceedings, saying judges had invoked a technicality to prevent them from responding to prosecutors.
In a 931-page pleading last month, tribunal prosecutors capped three years of investigation by seeking to commit Ieng Sary, 84, and three others to trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes under Cambodian law.
The defense sought to reply last week in a 66-page pleading that was rejected as “defective” by the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s co-investigating judges, who said it was more than four times over the limit of 15 pages and that there was no procedural guarantee for the defense to respond to the prosecutors’ final submission.
Though it has not been published by the tribunal, defense lawyers Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom announced their appeal on their independent website, which has several times drawn the ire of judges.
Perhaps the court’s most truculent litigators, the Ieng Sary defense have in the past pursued aggressive pretrial litigation more to prove a point than in the hopes of achieving an immediately favorable outcome.
The lawyers said in the interest of a fair trial they were calling on the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber to require that their response be accepted and considered.
“The European Court of Human Rights has found fair trial rights to have been violated when an applicant was denied an opportunity to reply to written submissions filed by state counsel,” the defense wrote in a summary of their appeal.
The defense noted that in the court’s first case, lawyers for former S-21 Chairman Kaing Guek Eav, who maintained less combative relations with investigators, were permitted to respond to prosecutors’ final submissions, albeit within the court’s page limit.
“The case is analogous to the scenario faced by Mr Ieng Sary because Mr Ieng Sary has been denied a genuine opportunity to comment on the [prosecutors’] final submission.”