Nuon Chea’s Lawyer Referred To Bar Over Behavior in Court

Victor Koppe, the Dutch defense lawyer for Nuon Chea, has been referred to the Amsterdam Bar Association over behavior during Khmer Rouge tribunal hearings in August in which he referred to proceedings as a “farce,” according to a letter released by the court on Tuesday.

The letter to the Amsterdam bar from Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn, dated December 11, relates to documentary hearings during which Mr. Koppe lambasted the court after the chamber overruled his objection to the prosecution’s use of transcripts of witness interviews.

Victor Koppe at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in 2013. (ECCC)
Victor Koppe at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in 2013. (ECCC)

Following the decision on August 26, Mr. Koppe called the hearing a “farce” and walked out of the courtroom. The next day, the lawyer went further, accusing Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne of making “cowardly decisions” and lacking “judicial integrity.”

Mr. Koppe then took aim at Judge Claudia Fenz, informing her that he regretted his team’s decision not to request her disqualification and described her predecessor, Judge Silvia Cartwright, as “a shiny and bright beacon of impartiality” by comparison.

On September 1, Mr. Koppe was warned to “correct his behavior” or face unspecified action by the Trial Chamber. According to the letter released on Tuesday, he has “failed to avail himself of this opportunity.”

“In the Trial Chamber’s opinion, Mr. Koppe’s behaviour appears to constitute professional misconduct…and it has decided to refer the matter to the Amsterdam Bar Association,” the letter said.

Mr. Koppe said on Tuesday that he was “delighted” by the prospect of being referred to his bar, as it would offer him an opportunity to air his grievances about the court.

“It allows me to explain in detail what a complete farce this tribunal indeed is and most importantly why? Although ‘tragedy’ might be a more appropriate qualification. A tragedy especially for the Cambodian people,” Mr. Koppe said in an email.

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