Path Cleared for Int’l Lawyers To Take Part in KR Trial

The governing body of the Cambodian Bar Association on Monday approved a fee structure that would permit foreign law­yers to register with the bar and participate in the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Ly Tayseng, the bar’s secretary-general, said Monday.

The participation of foreign lawyers at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cam­bodia is one of the outstanding points of contention in the debate over crucial procedural rules that has stalled most of the court’s progress since November. A committee of Cambodian and foreign tribunal judges is meeting at the ECCC this week to resolve remaining differences on the rules.

Ly Tayseng said the Bar Council agreed Monday that foreign lawyers interested in appearing before the ECCC would have to pay a $500 application fee to become members of the Cam­bodian bar. If selected to represent a client, the lawyer would pay an additional $2,000, plus $200 a month in membership dues. All fees would go to the Bar Asso­ciation, he said.

“We will write a letter to the ECCC judges to inform them what we decided,” he said.

Under the bar’s provisions, foreign lawyers would be selected through an open application process, he said. No limits would be placed on the number of foreign lawyers who could register, and the bar association would approve applicants based on a simple set of legal criteria, he said.

Another point of contention has been whether foreign lawyers will have full rights to defend clients in court. Ly Tayseng said that the Bar Association’s position is that foreign lawyers will have to ask permission from their Cambo­dian co-council before addressing the judge.

“Our Bar Association wants to see the ECCC process moving forward,” Ly Tayseng said. “That’s why we try to be flexible.”

Peter Foster, ECCC public af­fairs officer, said the rules committee judges had not yet had time to consider the Bar Association’s positions. The committee’s deliberations are expected to end Friday.

Principal Defender Rupert Skilbeck declined to comment in detail on the bar association’s position, on the grounds that it is up to tribunal judges to establish the court’s procedural rules.

On Friday, Skilbeck and Ky Tech, president of the bar association, met at the request of tribunal judges. “The idea of the meeting Friday was to clarify the issues,” Skilbeck said.

“There is a good atmosphere of cooperation between the court and the Bar Association,” he added. “We hope if that continues, it should be possible to resolve the out­standing issues.”

  (Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong.)



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