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Cambodia's leaders called out at Khmer Rouge court

Cambodia's leaders called out at Khmer Rouge court

If shutting off an attorney’s microphone is a sign that the lawyer’s strategy is working, then Nuon Chea defence counsel Andrew Ianuzzi was on a roll yesterday, finding himself cut off at least three times during cross examination of former Khmer Rouge administrator Rochoem Tun at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The former Khmer Rouge number two’s defence team’s strategy is built upon the assertion that the court has been hobbled by government interference, an assertion Ianuzzi sought to prove by beginning – then being forced to abandon – lines of questioning highlighting the Khmer Rouge ties to current Minister of Finance Keat Chhon and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong.

Ianuzzi even seemed to imply that Hun Sen himself was accountable for thousands of deaths shortly after his installation as prime minister thanks to his involvement in the bungled K5 Plan – an attempt to create a heavily mined and defended strip along the Thai border to prevent Khmer Rouge re­sistance from crossing between the two countries.

“What was the K5 mobilisation?” asked Ianuzzi, before being interrupted by court president Nil Nonn, who instructed Tun not to respond.

“Up to 50,000 individuals could have died in the implementation of the K5 Plan … Hun Sen may bear responsibility for the K5 plan and any resulting deaths,” Ianuzzi said, adding that the plan admittedly fell outside of the court’s mandate just before having his microphone turned off.

The defence counsel was cut off again shortly after asking if Tun thought that Namhong – who Tun said was “in charge” of detention centre Boeung Trabek at one point during the regime and was the former Khmer Rouge ambassador to Cuba – had failed to appear before investigating judges because the government was “afraid” of his testimony.

Ianuzzi also addressed Chhon’s time as a “senior cadre” in Democratic Kampuchea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he worked with Tun.

“He was responsible for writing speeches,” said Tun of Chhon’s duties at the ministry. “When there was a delegation, he had the duty to engage in the negotiations and keep the records.”

Ianuzzi’s microphone was cut off after asking the witness if he thought that Chhon had also refused to appear because of government pressure.

After a sustained objection from prosecutor Dale Lysak, Nonn interrupted Ianuzzi’s response, and instructed him to “use your time to put questions to the witness ... If you do not ask questions relevant to the closing order, you will not be allowed to stand on your feet, or to waste the court’s time.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at [email protected]

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