Nuon Chea’s Defense Requests Judge Removals

The defense team for Nuon Chea has filed an application calling for four judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal to be disqualified from sitting on the trial bench in the next phase of the court’s case against senior regime leaders.

The 45-page document, which was filed on September 29 and made public by the court Monday, seeks the disqualification of Cambodian judges Nil Nonn, Ya Sokhan and You Ottara and French judge Jean-Marc Lavergne from the next phase of the trial due to bias.

Nuon Chea’s lawyers, Victor Koppe and Son Arun, lay out numerous examples of what they say is the judges’ bias, including their failure to summon National Assembly President Heng Samrin, a former division commander under teh Khmer Rouge, to testify in the first stage of Case 002 as a character witness for Nuon Chea.

The lawyers also highlight allegations of corruption and government interference in the workings of the court, and point to comments made by former trial judge Silvia Cartwright that the Cambodian judges in the Trial Chamber were “growling in antagonism” at the evidence presented due to their painful experiences during the Khmer Rouge regime.

The defense team for Khieu Samphan, who was sentenced on August 7 to life imprisonment alongside Nuon Chea for crimes against humanity, filed a request with Supreme Court Chamber in August calling for the disqualification of judges involved in the guilty verdict. The lawyers argued that the judges had inappropriately drawn upon evidence that was not part of the first trial phase.

A document filed Monday by co-prosecutors Chea Leang and Nicholas Koumjian in response to the Nuon Chea team’s request says the disqualification of the judges would threaten the chance that the second trial phase of Case 002 could be completed in a timely fashion before the suspects die.

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