The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Trial Chamber announced a start date of November 21 for the first trial in Case 002 against four of the Democratic Kampuchea regime’s most senior leaders yesterday.
The announcement of the start date was accompanied by the Trial Chamber’s rejection of the co-prosecutors’ request to reconsider the format of Case 002, which has been split into several, discrete trials.
Opening statements will begin on November 21, with the court set to hear initial evidence the following week, according to a scheduling order issued by the Trial Chamber.
Former KR “Brother No 2” Nuon Chea, Defence Minister Ieng Sary, nominal head of state Khieu Samphan and Social Action Minister Ieng Thirith all stand accused of crimes against humanity, genocide and grave breaches of the Geneva convention. However, the first trial in Case 002 will only address crimes against humanity in respect to forced movements of the population.
Last month, the Trial Chamber ordered that Case 002 be split into a series of separate trials that will address different aspects of the KR regime in the interests of expediency for both victims and the accused.
The co-prosecutors requested that the format of the case be reconsidered, as the exclusion of certain alleged criminal acts from the first trial, such as those committed at security centres and execution sites, removed from that trial “the massive scale of the crimes and the extreme seriousness of the alleged criminal behaviour of the accused”.
“The Chamber has declined to reconsider this [Severance] Order or to hold a hearing, which would ensure that the substantive trial could instead not open before 2012,” yesterday’s decision from the Chamber read.
Court spokesman Lars Olsen said yesterday that the Chamber will hear opening statements before proceeding with the substantive evidence of the trial. “There will be an order to call
witnesses to give evidence, but this list is confidential until they appear in court,” he said.
Civil party lawyers expressed concern that the severance order did not sufficiently take victims into account.
“There are nearly 4,000 civil parties, and the severance order does not seriously consider the high number of victims – and the gravity of the crimes they suffered – that will not be able to participate in this trial,” civil party lawyer Silke Studsinsky said. “My concern is that this first case will only concern forced transfers, and any other civil parties not related to forced transfers do not have the right to participate in this trial and so will not have the right to reparations.”
A hearing with civil party lawyers regarding reparations requests is scheduled to begin today.
The scheduling order calls for the co-prosecutors to deliver an opening statement on the entire indictment, despite the Trial Chamber's decision to split Case 002 into several trials. The subject matter of the subsequent trials has not yet been made public.