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Khieu Samphan to return to court soon

The Trial Chamber expects co-accused Khieu Samphan to be discharged from hospital over the weekend, president Nil Nonn said at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Nonn made this announcement after Khieu Samphan’s co-counsel Anta Guissé – who apparently did not share the judges’ understanding of her client’s status – asked why the Chamber was not considering Samphan’s health in planning proceedings for next week.

“I’d like to know whether the situation of my client is also taken into account,” Guissé said. “I am not sure that my client will be able to attend next week’s hearings.”

Nonn had said next week’s schedule – a new witness on Monday, followed by more document hearings – was “tentative”, depending on the health of Khmer Rouge Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, who has remained in the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital since he was admitted with acute bronchitis on January 13.

Judge Silvia Cartwright asked the Nuon Chea team to inform the Trial Chamber as soon as possible regarding Nuon Chea’s health and willingness to waive his right to be present for the pencilled-in witness’s testimony.

But Nuon Chea’s defence counsel, Son Arun, said after court yesterday that Nuon Chea, who the doctor has said should remain in hospital for about a week more, would not waive his right to be present for the witness, whose testimony would be “important for him,” so it was unlikely that hearings would take place on Monday.

Michael Karnavas, defence counsel for former foreign minister Ieng Sary, also reiterated concerns about his client’s ability to follow proceedings.

Karnavas and Guissé also questioned the credibility of several documents presented by the prosecution and civil parties, with Karnavas calling some “hearsay from hearsay”.

The documents had included reports of massive population transfers, starvation and rapes by Khmer Rouge soldiers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at



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