Khmer Rouge tribunal judges ruled yesterday that some hearings will be adjourned early or cancelled over the next two weeks after repeated requests from defence and civil party lawyers for more time to familiarise themselves with new witness statements entered by the prosecution.
During yesterday’s afternoon proceedings, Nuon Chea’s defence counsel, Victor Koppe, noted that prosecutors handed his team two new statements about 10 minutes before the lunch recess was over.
The short notice, he said, prevented the defence from examining the documents, which came from witnesses in Case 004 but are pertinent to future witness testimony in the current Case 002/02.
“Right now, we have reached the moment where the only proper way to proceed is to postpone the hearings,” Koppe said. Civil party lawyer Marie Guiraud echoed Koppe’s sentiment, saying her team was “exactly in the same situation”.
The issue was first raised on Monday by defence counsel after the prosecution’s insertion of 20 statements from Case 004.
Koppe said at the time that the defence still had to review some 334 documents – more than 200 of which had yet to be released as of Monday.
After deliberation yesterday, Trial Chamber judge Claudia Fenz declined to postpone the current hearing, but added that an email would be sent out to parties about future proceedings. According to a copy of the email, the Chamber will adjourn early and cancel hearings on several days to afford teams extra time to read the new documents.
“The Chamber sits four days per week and trusts that the parties will utilise any out of court time . . . to familiarise themselves with the newly disclosed material,” the email reads.
For most of yesterday’s hearing, witness Phneou Yav, a 47-year-old monk-turned-teacher and long-time resident of Takeo province’s Tram Kak district, testified at the tribunal about the divisive three-tier units that citizens were segregated into based upon their perceived loyalty to the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
Late in the afternoon session, another civil party witness, Sao Hean, a rice farmer from Takeo, took to the stand and spoke about the formation of militias, units and districts in the province and the disappearance of teachers and doctors after the Khmer Rouge took power on 1975. Hean continues his testimony today.