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Khmer Rouge former president Khieu Samphan attends testimony at the Court Room of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in 2012. ECCC

Ex-KR Khieu Samphan’s defence team eyes acquittal

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan is seeking an acquittal, alongside his co-accused, former Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea, for crimes against humanity, his lawyer confirmed yesterday.

But the prosecution is pushing for a second life sentence for the pair, as revealed in their closing brief, which was made public yesterday.

“Considering the singular gravity of the crimes, which have left an indelible imprint of horrific trauma upon a nation . . . the Chamber should impose a sentence of life imprisonment,” their statement read.

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia hearing in 2015. Peter Ford/ECCC
Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia hearing in 2015. Peter Ford/ECCC

While the ageing pair has already received life imprisonment for crimes in the first phase of their trial, the lodging of closing briefs and the rebuttals to be aired in the courtroom next month are the latest steps in a second trial phase.

Known as Case 002/02, this trial carries more serious charges, including genocide, enslavement and forced marriage. Samphan’s defence lawyer, Anta Guisse, said her client should be found not guilty of those crimes.

“We are seeking an acquittal too because we are rejecting the definition and the alleged objectives of the so-called joint criminal enterprise,” she said, referring to a legal doctrine that considers each member of an organised group to be responsible for crimes committed under a common purpose.

Chea’s team has also argued “no direct evidence of either common objective or common means exists”, so their client cannot be held liable.

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