The Khmer Rouge tribunal must ensure that the second phase of the case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan proceeds as soon as possible, the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) said in a statement Tuesday.
Last week, judges, prosecutors, defense and civil party lawyers held two days of trial management meetings to determine whether a second panel of judges should be established to hear the second trial phase, or whether it should continue under the Trial Chamber judges who are presently deliberating the outcome of the first phase.
“If a second trial is to have any practical possibility of delivering meaningful justice while the accused are still alive and fit, it must not only begin within the next few months, but it must be conducted with a maximum of efficiency consistent with international fair trial standards,” said OSJI’s executive director, James Goldston.
Prosecutors last week said they would like the next stage of the trial to begin by the end of February 2014 and that they would need about 96 days to cover the remaining legal charges against the accused, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and forced marriage.
“It is encouraging to see such detailed thought, planning and advocacy coming from the prosecutors. The other stakeholders of the court must match this level of leadership,” Mr. Goldston said.
Trial Chamber judges last week appeared reluctant to proceed with the second phase, although the court’s administrators assured the panel that funding—which blighted proceedings this year—would not be a repeat issue.
“The decision about which judges will preside over the second trial can and must be made immediately so that staffing for a new chamber or additional staffing for the existing chamber does not become an excuse for further delay,” he added.