Following former Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan’s solicitation of leagal aid, his next-door neighbor and fellow revolutionary Nuon Chea said recently he would represent himself if tried for crimes against humanity and genocide.
Speaking at his home outside Pailin, Nuon Chea, once known as Democratic Kampuchea’s Brother No 2, rejected lawyers as mercenary lackeys of the rich.
“You know the law and learn the law, but you use it as your business. If people have no money, you do not help defend them. So where is the justice and ideals to assist the poor people?” Nuon Chea asked.
“For this reason, I have decided not to take on a lawyer to defend me, and especially because I have no money to hire him,” he said.
Nuon Chea also said that, because no lawyer truly understands the story of the Khmer Rouge, none could adequately defend him.
“How could he help me, because he does not know what has happened from the beginning?” he said.
“If you want to be [my] lawyer, you must know deeply about the Khmer Rouge, since its inception, and that is too long [a period] to learn and understand.”
Nuon Chea said he has some knowledge of the law, but does not respect its practice as a wage-earning profession.
“I studied law, but I left it behind when I chose to join the resistance movement and politics, thinking I could help liberate the country from the colonizers and assist the people,” Nuon Chea said.
He added that legal counsel should be available to average citizens for free or made considerably less expensive.
“The lawyer is just for rich people, not for the poor,” he said.
The government and the UN have both said they intend for a Khmer Rouge tribunal to be under way sometime in 2004.
It has not been determined which of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders would be called forward to account for the deaths of more than 1 million people.