The two-week-old objections of the Khieu Samphan defence paid off at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, with the trial chamber announcing that the team would indeed have time to lodge their responses to incriminating documents presented by the prosecution.
As the court began its final round of key document presentations yesterday, Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn seemingly agreed with the Samphan team’s assertion that documentary evidence would play a greater role in the court’s decision-making process than previously thought, and that the hearings should be open to adversarial debate.
“As for the Khieu Samphan defence, they raised that kind of [uncontested document] hearing is a violation to Khieu Samphan, as the defence is not allowed to object or discuss on documents raised by other parties,” Nonn said.
“For that reason, the chamber shall hear further hearings on admissibility of documents as well as the weight of the evidence presented in previous hearings.”
In the court’s three previous rounds of document hearings, parties were not allowed to raise ob-jections to documents being presented.
After today’s hearings, the Samphan team may well have something to respond to, with co-prosecutor Keith Raynor presenting documents undermining Samphan’s long-held stance that he had nothing to do with the Khmer Rouge’s murderous policies.
In one article read aloud in court, author and former tribunal employee Stephen Heder made the case that Samphan had used his unimpeachable reputation to lure Lon Nol soldiers to the Khmer Rouge, who then killed them in droves.
“The esteem in which he was held allowed some of them to become sitting ducks for murder,” Raynor said, quoting Heder’s article. “Thus as the Communist Party of Kampuchea advanced towards an all-out military victory . . . Khieu Samphan twice signalled those who had been fighting against it that only the seven top leaders among them would be executed.”