Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court confusion

Court confusion

Court confusion

Judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have rejected a request to appoint a lawyer for the five as-yet-unnamed suspects who could face prosecution in the court’s third and fourth cases.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the court’s Defence Support Section said veteran Cambodian lawyer Kong Sam Onn had been tapped to “represent the general interests of the five Unnamed Suspects currently under investigation by the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges”. Yesterday evening, however, the court released a new statement saying such an appointment had been rejected.

“The concept of assigning legal counsel to represent unnamed suspects in Cases 003 and 004 has explicitly been rejected by the co-investigating judges in September 2010 upon a request from the Defence Support Section,” UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said. “This means that unless the judges decide otherwise, any lawyer assigned by the Defence Support Section will not be recognised by the court.”

Defence officials argued that the appointment was necessary to safeguard suspect rights as the investigations progress.

“Defence input is required for these proceedings to meet fair trial standards. If the proceedings cannot meet these standards, then they should be dismissed,” Kong Sam Onn said in an email. “This is not just important for Cases 003 and 004, but also for the legacy of the [tribunal].”

Rupert Abbott, the officer-in-charge of the DSS, said in an email that it was vital that Kong Sam Onn be granted access to case files 003 and 004 “to consider any evidence and to ensure that the rights of the Unnamed Suspects are being respected”.

Last year, international prosecutor William Smith submitted to the court’s co-investigating judges a list of five potential suspects, the identities of whom remain confidential.

In June, international co-investigating judge Marcel Lemonde announced that he was pursuing the investigations on his own due to a lack of support from his Cambodian colleague, You Bunleng.

Lemonde’s resignation from the court is set to take effect today. You Bunleng said yesterday that he would consult with Lemonde’s successor, Siegfried Blunk, about the course of investigation in Cases 003 and 004.

Olsen said yesterday that investigation had thus far been confined to “crime bases”, and had not yet focused on particular individuals.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget