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Court sets case scope

Court sets case scope

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has settled on the scope of the next segment of Case 002, laying a broad foundation for a trial that will see charges of genocide, forced marriage and the persecution of Buddhists – among others – levelled against the remaining defendants.

Case 002 – the court’s flagship trial against senior Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan – was first severed in 2011, when the trial chamber argued that hearing the case in smaller segments would ensure at least some judgements could be rendered before the octogenarian defendants’ deaths.

According to a copy of the trial chamber’s latest severance order – which is dated April 4, but has not yet been made public – the chamber’s decisions hew closely to requests made by the prosecution, which has argued that the charges in the new sub-trial should be “representative” of all the remaining charges in the Case 002 indictment, thereby obviating the need for trials after 002/02.

“The Expanded [Office of the Co-Prosecutors] Proposal adheres to the Supreme Court Chamber’s order [to hear certain charges] while, as outlined above . . . at the same time retaining a manageable scope,” the chamber’s filing reads.

In addition to charges of genocide against the Vietnamese and Cham, forced marriage and rape and religious persecution, the upcoming sub-trial will also deal with charges relating to the S-21 detention centre, purges within the ranks of the Khmer Rouge and crimes committed in worksites and cooperatives.

Though it accepted all of the prosecution’s proposed sites, the chamber rejected requests from the Nuon Chea defence and the civil parties to include a handful of additional crime sites, saying their inclusion “risks undermining the efficiency and manageability gained by choosing to sever Case 002 in the first place”.

Though the team declined to comment yesterday, the Nuon Chea defence has said in court that it had intended to use the crime sites to explore the theory that cadres in control of the zones where the regime’s atrocities were the most severe were not under the control of central party officials like Chea.

Cambodia Justice Initiative program officer Panhavuth Long said the omissions were unlikely to jeopardise Chea’s fair trial rights, and that, overall, the severance order laid out “a good scope”, but expressed worry that the court has yet to announce a trial date.

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