Samphan’s Defense Calls For Removal of Judges

The defense team for Khieu Samphan, who was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for crimes against humanity, wants the judges behind the guilty verdict to be disqualified if the Khmer Rouge tribunal moves ahead with the next phase of the trial.

A request filed with the Supreme Court Chamber on Monday evening calls for the suspension of what is known as Case 002/02, which deals with criminal accusations of genocide, internal purges and rape, and comes after Case 002 was split into smaller trials in 2011.

The legal team has argued since last year that the next trial should not begin until the Supreme Court Chamber passes its final judgment on defense appeals in the first.

In an email Tuesday, one of Khieu Samphan’s international defense lawyers, Arthur Vercken, said the request took into account not only the August 7 verdict, but also a July 29 decision by the Supreme Court Chamber that ordered the Trial Chamber to find a way to address charges not to be heard in this phase.

“When you read the judgment dated 7 August, it is absolutely clear that the Trial Chamber is using all the global case to condemn [Khieu Samphan] (including facts and allegations completely outside the scope of the first trial),” Mr. Vercken said.

“This behavior is unacceptable and should be sanctioned,” he said, because the first judgment condemned Khieu Samphan on facts that were supposed to be judged in the upcoming part of the case.

Lawyers for Nuon Chea could not be reached, but they last week filed a notice informing the court of their intention to file a full motion for recusal as soon as possible.

One of the five Trial Chamber judges, New Zealander Silvia Cartwright, tendered her resignation in June and is due to step down on September 1. She is set to be replaced by Reserve Judge Claudia Fenz.

Long Panhavuth, program officer with the Cambodia Justice Initiative, said that in the absence of further resignations, “I think the appeal to disqualify and sanction judges on the grounds that there is subjective or objective bias, or that the Trial Chamber is only interested in Khieu Samphan, is groundless to me.”

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