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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KR court moves on Samphan’s lawyers as boycott continues

KR court moves on Samphan’s lawyers as boycott continues

Defence lawyers for former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan have been ordered to take direction from the UN-backed tribunal after their client’s refusal to end his boycott of trial hearings in Case 002/02.

Samphan has continued to instruct his defence teams to focus on appealing his the Case 002/01 guilty verdict despite a number of warnings from the court.

He has argued that his team does not have sufficient resources to both work on the appeal and attend trial hearings but has said he will return to court by December 29.

Earlier this week, the trial chamber offered an ultimatum to Samphan, saying that if he did not change his mind it would appoint new counsel to represent him or reclassify his three current lawyers as “court appointed counsel”.

Yesterday, the trial chamber ruled that it would do the latter after Samphan stood firm.

“While Khieu Samphan’s instruction to his counsel may reflect his defence strategy, it fails to take into account the broader interests of justice and ignores measures taken by the Chamber to accommodate his concerns, including a reduction in the number of hearing days per week and a request that the Administration provide additional support to increase the work capacity of his defence team,” the chamber wrote in its decision.

It added that the boycott was “substantially obstructing the proper and expeditious conduct of this trial”, with further delays set to create “hardships for witnesses and Civil Parties, inconvenience and additional costs for the Parties and the ECCC.”

“The practice of international criminal tribunals illustrates that where an accused’s choice on the manner in which he exercises his right to representation obstructs the proceedings, the Chamber has discretion to appoint counsel to assist the Accused”.

While Samphan’s defence team has been ordered to appear in court on Monday, lawyer Kong Sam Onn said yesterday that they would not accept the appointment and would keep working on Samphan’s appeal. “For us, we won’t resign from the court.

But I’m not sure what this court is going to do. They might dismiss us, I’m not sure,” he said.

Sam Onn added that if the team accepted the court’s order, Samphan “might think that we betrayed him and he will not accept us as his counsel anymore”.

“And in that sense, it is very bad for the interests of the client. So we cannot accept such an appointment,” he said.

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