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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - K Samphan's trial at risk without full translations

K Samphan's trial at risk without full translations


Lawyer Jacques Verges renews demands for a case file in French as deadline looms for decision on appeals hearing


Former KR head of state Khieu Samphan at his first appeals hearing in April.

KHIEU Samphan's trial will not proceed until thousands of pages of court documents are translated into French, defence lawyers announced Wednesday, dashing hopes of a speedy court appearance for the former Khmer Rouge head of state.

French attorney Jacques Verges, who derailed his 77-year-old client's bail hearing in April by demanding the court provide French-language versions of documents, claimed in a statement that it would be impossible to ensure that the accused received a fair trial if the full case file was not translated into his native tongue.

Khieu Samphan's Cambodian lawyer Sa Sovan told the Post Wednesday that the renewed call for translations was not - as observers have alleged - a stalling technique to keep the French-educated Khmer Rouge leader out of the dock. 

"If there is no translation how can [co-lawyer Verges] defend the case?" So Sovan said.

"He does not know what Khieu Samphan was arrested for," he added.

The statement was issued in response to a new deadline meted out by the UN-backed court which demanded the defence team determine by Friday whether they wish to continue with the long-stalled bail hearing.

However, the grounds of the deadline were unclear, fuelling fears that further delays will stall the tentative progress recently made by the court. 

Last week, the tribunal indicted Kaing Guek Eav, the former S-21 Tuol Sleng prison chief also known as Duch, who will be the first of five former regime leaders to be tried.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Wednesday that he hoped a resolution would be reached as soon as possible.

He added that the court needed "cooperation from all sides".



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