The defence for Nuon Chea yesterday brushed off a trial chamber warning for misconduct, and reiterated its commitment to an ongoing boycott of the proceedings in Case 002/02 in a closed-door meeting at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, according to Chea defender Victor Koppe.
That commitment was bolstered by a letter from Chea himself expressing his support for his counsel, and his staunch opposition to a prosecution proposal to appoint new temporary counsel to represent him in court for the duration of his chosen attorneys’ boycott.
The defence boycott began at the hearing of opening statements on October 17, when Chea said he would be instructing his lawyers not to appear at hearings until a special judicial panel makes a decision on his application to have four of the sitting judges disqualified.
In his letter to Defence Support Section Head Isaac Endeley on Monday, Chea wrote that he has “no faith in the three national judges and the French judge”.
“It is my firm belief that they are biased and not independent. They should not be the judges in my new trial.”
“Let me be very clear to you. It is my absolute stance that I shall not accept under any circumstances new lawyers,” he continued. “If the court decides to appoint new lawyers, I shall not accept them, and I shall refuse to come to court. Only by use of force shall I attend any hearing.”
Under the court’s internal rules, the trial chamber on Friday issued a warning for misconduct to the Chea and Samphan defences, and threatened to submit the matter to the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia. But Koppe, Chea’s international co-lawyer, maintained yesterday that the warning had no basis in Cambodian law.
“Here, it’s not possible for a court to issue warnings or sanctions,” he said. “In the civil law system, as far as I can see, they don’t have that.”
“That’s why the trial chamber can only base itself on the internal rules, and our position has always been that the internal rules are just some rules the judges made up,” he added.
Koppe also maintained that it would be “impossible” for the trial chamber to compel his client to accept new representation, a view he said was echoed in yesterday’s meeting.
The meeting also dealt with the Khieu Samphan team’s contention that it has inadequate resources to both draft an appeal in Case 002/01, and represent him in Case 002/02 simultaneously – an assertion that has formed the backbone of the team’s own boycott of the proceedings. Lawyers for Samphan could not be reached.
Court legal communications officer Lars Olsen said yesterday that the subject of the meeting conformed to what was announced by the trial chamber on Friday – namely, issues pertaining to the prosecution’s request for temporary counsel and the Samphan team’s complaint about resources – but declined to comment on the meeting in detail.
“All I can tell you is that both defence teams did appear, as did Khieu Samphan. The trial chamber has instructed us to make their morning session available to the public,” he said. “This will be done [Wednesday] morning, and until then, I can’t comment on it.”