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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Composition of next phase of trial argued

Composition of next phase of trial argued

Parties to the Khmer Rouge tribunal met yesterday to further deliberate the framework of the next phase of Case 002, submitting specific crimes to be heard and even debating whether the case can be heard at all before a final judgement in the first phase is rendered.

At the heart of much of the debate was a February 7 filing by the court’s trial chamber confirming that all evidence heard in Case 002/01 will automatically be part of Case 002/02, a position that the
Khieu Samphan defence called “objectionable”, unless a final verdict in Case 002/01 had already concretely established the facts of the case.

“How do you intend to use the first trial as a foundation unless you have ascertained exactly what it is all about?” Samphan defender Arthur Vercken asked. “This opens the door to all kinds of risks
. . . risks of breaching Mr Khieu Samphan’s rights.”

However, prosecutor William Smith argued that since the evidence from Case 002/01 wouldn’t necessarily be stipulated as fact in 002/02 then “no prejudice can be claimed by the accused”.
The scope of Case 002/02 also prompted disagreement.

The prosecution has proposed that the coming trial would be thelast in Case 002. It would include all the remaining criminal charges in the Case 002 indictment, while limiting a certain number of redundant crime scenes to save time.

The Khieu Samphan defence, however, insisted yesterday that the court was obligated to hear every single crime site included in indictment.

Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe, on the other hand, declined to make specific recommendations on scope, instead insisting on a framework that would allow for a broader exploration of facts rather than “focusing on the body of the crocodile while refusing to consider its head and tail”.

Koppe argued for a framework that would allow the defence to explore its contention that the Khmer Rouge faced a “legitimate” security threat, and that rather than a monolithic organisation, the regime comprised opposing factions.

“Some of those [factions] ultimately triumphed, and are the ones who now lead the prosecution against Nuon Chea,” he added, in an apparent nod to the current government’s ex-Khmer Rouge roots.

Koppe also repeated his assertion that the combination of the trial chamber’s decision in Case 001 and their anticipated decision in 002/01 made the upcoming case’s outcome a foregone conclusion, an assertion Koumjian took issue with.

“Because there were findings made about the role of the accused, it does not mean in any way that there is a bias on the part of your honours,” Koumjian said. “If in fact the [prosecution’s] case is so strong that there is no defence, then, well, justice will be done.”

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