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KRT trial judges stay, panel rules

A special judicial panel of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s trial chamber has dismissed applications made by defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to disqualify the court’s judges.

Chea’s defence team had been waiting on the outcome of their application before deciding whether to end an ongoing boycott of the Case 002/02 trial.

Victor Koppe, Chea’s international co-lawyer, said yesterday that it was likely they would now attend trial hearings, which are scheduled to restart on Monday.

“Nuon Chea’s position has been always clear. So it’s likely he will instruct us to attend the hearing on Monday,” he said.

In the decision made public yesterday, a special panel of five judges dismissed both applications.

Chea had asked that four of five trial chamber judges be disqualified due to his belief that they would not be able to afford him a fair trial, given they handed down a guilty verdict in the case’s first sub-trial (002/01) in August.

Samphan’s team had also filed an application to disqualify judges, but the former KR head of state vowed to boycott hearings for a different reason – he said his team needed time to focus on preparing his appeal of the 002/01 verdict.

A majority of judges on the five-member special panel agreed to dismiss both Chea and Samphan’s applications, with Judge Rowan Downing dissenting. The panel unanimously dismissed Samphan’s application that Judge Claudia Fenz, who was appointed after the Case 002/01 verdict, be disqualified.

The statement says that “full reasoning” will be provided as soon as it is available.

Koppe said that his team has yet to receive any reasoning but was “very interested in especially Judge Downing’s dissenting opinion” for which he applauded his “courage and integrity”.

Samphan’s defence lawyers could not be reached.

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