The Khmer Rouge tribunal held what Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn called its final trial management meeting yesterday, prompting fresh disagreements over new issues, and renewing older clashes that had long lain dormant.
At the fore was a series of concerns raised by Khieu Samphan’s defence counsel Arthur Vercken, who took issue with what he described as a seeming bait-and-switch.
The court initially asserted that the three prior readings of key documents were solely “for educational purposes” for the public and haven’t addressed the prominent role those documents are likely to play in closing arguments.
“As we approach the close of the proceedings, we have had three document hearings, and we have had no adversarial proceedings and dialogue, and the parties could not react,” Vercken said, highlighting the fact that defence teams were not allowed to challenge the documents being read at the time.
Prosecutor William Smith, however, said all teams had had a chance to challenge documents’ admissibility long before the key document hearings were even held, and painted the Samphan defence team’s objections as indicative of an overall strategy of procedural nitpicking.
“When Khieu Samphan’s counsel states that [their] fair trial rights are being violated because they haven’t had ample opportunity to challenge those documents, they . . . have completely got it wrong.”
In the afternoon, the court returned to matters of trial management, with the Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe asking why the trial chamber hadn’t yet decided on whether to call his client’s “one and only character witness”, who was also prepared to testify that the Democratic Kampuchea regime had no policy of targeting former Lon Nol officials and soldiers.
The day’s session concluded with the trial chamber announcing that decisions would be made on the various issues in due course.