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.


  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National