Hearing on the future of Case 002 at the Khmer Rouge tribunal settled into a contentious groove yesterday as the defence and prosecution traded barbs across the courtroom, taking — with few exceptions — diametrically opposed views on the scope of the trial going forward.
Defence teams for Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea argued vehemently against the prosecution’s proposal to re-sever Case 002 and re-apportion it into a “more representative” sub-trial — one that would include charges from S-21, while saving other charges for later trials whose likelihood even prosecutors called “remote”—calling instead for the trial to expand several times in scope to include every allegation in the original indictment.
“At the time, we thought that severance would be the best way to forge a manageable trial out of a complex closing order [indictment],” Nuon Chea co-counsel Victor Koppe said.
“That expectation has not been the case.”
“We think the best thing would be not to sever the closing order at all and to try the entirety of Case 002,” Koppe added, noting that it felt “strange to ask that our client be, in practice, tried for more crimes and not for less”.
Ieng Sary co-counsel Michael Karnavas echoed Koppe’s stance, maintaining that re-severing the case to include charges more representative of the entire case would be akin to “justice à la carte”.
“You cannot just dismiss counts,” he said. “You must try the whole case.”
Prosecutor Dale Lysak – after calling Koppe’s argument against severance “the mother of all flip-flops” – leapt to question the two teams’ motives for insisting the trial’s scope be expanded.
“Perhaps they consider their next best option is to create as much chaos as they can, as much delay as they can, and to create a trial that probably cannot be completed while their clients remain fit,” he said.
The Khieu Samphan defence, for its part, argued that no matter the outcome of the severance hearings, Samphan’s right to a fair and speedy trial had been violated – as had the presumption of his innocence.
Due to his relatively good health, Khieu Samphan co-counsel Arthur Vercken explained after court, Samphan will likely still be alive and fit to stand for multiple additional trials – unlike his co-accused – even after the prosecution’s proposed severed case wraps.
Allowing Samphan to live under house arrest in the meantime, he maintained, “would not fix the prejudice, but at least he is 82 years old; he could spend a little time with his family”.
Civil party lead co-lawyer Elisabeth Simmoneau-Fort responded by noting that any argument against severing the case “is a purely strategic move based on the assumption that [the defendants] will never be charged,” and that the “timeliness of the trial is not just a privilege of the accused; it is also the right of the civil parties”.
Further hearings on the case’s severance continue today.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at [email protected]