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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Health concerns still front and centre at court

Health concerns still front and centre at court

Kicking off a day devoted to document hearings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, Nuon Chea co-counsel Victor Koppe noted his client’s “deteriorating” health while reassuring the court the hearings could go on in his absence.

Despite his condition, Koppe said, Nuon Chea had already waived his right to be present, allowing the court to proceed with the document presentations, which were originally scheduled for a later date, but had been moved up to fill the time while co-defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are hospitalised.

Nuon Chea co-counsel Son Arun said after yesterday’s hearing the former Khmer Rouge ideologue’s health had indeed been declining until yesterday, when his doctors began administering oxygen.

“Yesterday, it was hard [for him] to breathe. Today, he feels a little better because they put him on oxygen,” Arun said, adding he was unsure when Chea would return to the proceedings. “He cannot walk, and I don’t think he’s [in too much of a] hurry to get out of the hospital, because his lungs are bad.”

Khieu Samphan co-counsel Anta Guisse also offered a brief update on her client’s health, saying he appeared “very weak and very tired”, but the team was still awaiting “fresh information” from his physicians.

For the rest of the day, lawyers for the prosecution presented documents intended to demonstrate the rigidly hierarchical command structure of the Khmer Rouge, a key component of the cases against the three remaining co-accused.

But Ieng Sary co-counsel Michael Karnavas objected to the use of a number of documents, taking particular issue with documents coming from foreign governments.

“We think all such documents, especially anything . . . out of the US and France, is suspect, because as we all know, [America was] conducting a dirty war…while at the same time lying to the American people, and lying to Congress,” Karnavas said.

“If any of these docs are to come in, the authors should also come in to give evidence and be examined.”


To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at



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