Legal counsel for “Brother Number 2” Nuon Chea yesterday told Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun they did not trust him, did not believe him, and were of the view that he was receiving instructions from suspects in their recently filed criminal complaint, which includes Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The premier, along with 13 other high-ranking government officials, has been accused by lawyers Michiel Pestman and Andrew Ianuzzi of contriving a common criminal plan of interference in the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Pestman and Ianuzzi were summoned by the municipal court’s deputy prosecutor, Sok Roeun, for quest-ioning yesterday, after filing a complaint last Monday requesting a judicial investigation into the actions of a group of high-powered officials that includes Senate president Chea Sim and National Assembly president Heng Samrin.
“We urged the prosecutor to hand over the complaint to an investigating judge,” Pestman said at a press conference that followed yesterday’s questioning. “But there is no indication the prosecutor is willing take this any further.”
Deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun hung up the phone when contacted for comment.
In 2009, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court scuttled investigations into a complaint by Pestman and Ianuzzi regarding corruption at the tribunal, namely an alleged kickbacks scheme, and the duo said they feared this new criminal complaint would be similarly disposed of.
“This matter directly affects the fair trial rights of our client and the proceedings in Case 002,” Pestman said.
When asked if the filing of a criminal complaint against pol-itical heavyweights had resulted in any threats or intimidation, both declined to comment.
Pestman and Ianuzzi had requested a stay in Case 002 proceedings – due to begin November 21 – until their complaint was finalised, but the Trial Chamber flatly rejected this request on Tuesday.
The Trial Chamber has made no moves to embrace bids from parties to the Case 002 proceedings for trial management meetings or stays before the opening of arguably the largest and most complex international criminal case to date.
The content of the subsequent trials in Case 002 and determinations on Ieng Thirith and Nuon Chea’s fitness to stand trial are among decisions outstanding from the Trial Chamber, which yesterday said it would not be operating from November 7 to November 11 during the Water Festival.
This gives the Trial Chamber just seven working days before Case 002 opens.
The Supreme Court Chamber also has yet to hand down its judgment in Case 001, in which the co-prosecutors, defence and civil parties all appealed many legal points that are pertinent to Case 002 proceedings.
Former KR foreign minister Ieng Sary has requested a stay on the Trial Chamber’s recent ruling to include crimes against humanity charges in Case 002, because the matter was appealed in Case 001 and no judgment has yet been delivered.
Additional reporting by Cheang Sokha