The second stab at the second round of Case 002/01 appeal hearings picked up yesterday, having been rescheduled from November due to a contentious walkout by the Nuon Chea defence.
Co-appellants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were sentenced to life imprisonment on August 7, 2014, and have submitted 371 grounds of appeal collectively, with the first round of hearings having occurred in July of last year.
Supreme Court Chamber president Kong Srim yesterday related an email to judges from the Chea defence informing them “the defence does not intend to make any submissions or respond to any questions from the bench”, a position it had pledged to take if the court upheld a decision not to call National Assembly President Heng Samrin and filmmaker Robert Lemkin as witnesses, which it did last week.
Chea’s international counsel, Victor Koppe, who did not appear yesterday, had previously said his team also planned to not actively participate in the document hearings before the trial chamber next week.
Proceedings otherwise continued smoothly yesterday, with the morning devoted to appeals on the grounds of fair trial rights, and the afternoon devoted to the lower trial chamber’s overall approach to weighing evidence.
“The person that was the symbolic representative of Democratic Kampuchea has also turned out to be symbolic convict”, said Khieu Samphan defender Anta Guisse, echoing the Samphan defence’s long-held contention that the ex-head of state was simply a figurehead for the regime.
She went on to compare the tribunal to the post-World War II Tokyo Trials, which were criticised for not prosecuting certain individuals for political reasons, describing the approach as “cosmetic justice”, though prosecutor William Smith dismissed the characterisation as a “loose analogy”.
Prosecutor Chea Leang, for her part, launched into an apparent defence of the court’s decision not to call Heng Samrin, saying Samrin had no knowledge of the orders for the 1975 evacuation of Phnom Penh.
“Chea’s order was to kill all those [Lon Nol officials] that remain, which the evidence shows was exactly the case,” she said, going on to refute the argument that Samrin could be a character witness for Chea’s dedication to the revolution.
“How Nuon Chea’s dedication to the ultra-radical revolution would affect his convictions he does not explain,”she said.
Koppe, reacting to the decision not to call Samrin on Sunday, wrote in an email that the court “is also not interested in admitting reliable evidence that implicates members of the present government”.