In a Friday filing, the Khmer Rouge tribunal rejected a motion by the Nuon Chea defence to admit as evidence a damning Human Rights Watch report.
The decision came as the Chea defence filed a new motion asking the Supreme Court Chamber to reconsider the decision not to summon what they say are key witnesses.
The court said it would issue its reasoning for the rejection of three chapters of HRW’s 30 Years of Hun Sen: Violence, Repression, and Corruption in Cambodia “in due course”.
Meanwhile, Chea defenders Victor Koppe and Son Arun requested in a 30-page filing that the refusal to summon filmmaker Robert Lemkin and current National Assembly President and ex-Khmer Rouge cadre Heng Samrin as witnesses in the Case 002/01 appeal be reconsidered.
Barring that, they argued, the court should “urgently release full reasons” for why the request was denied, something the court promised “in due course” when it dismissed the request in October, 13 months after the it was first made by the defence.
“Heng Samrin is to the evacuation of Phnom Penh what Duch is to S-21; one of the persons tasked with guiding the implementation of policies,” the document reads in a lengthy section detailing the importance of Samrin as a witness, adding that his testimony would challenge the present understanding of the structure and internal conflicts of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.
“Few people alive in Cambodia today had as long and close a relationship with Nuon Chea during the revolution,” the filing states, arguing that Samrin could potentially exculpate Chea for alleged crimes committed during the evacuation of Phnom Penh, as well as the alleged execution of Lon Nol officials at Tuol Po Chrey.
The reasons to admit Lemkin’s evidence are similar, as it would point to Ros Nhim acting independently from the party centre, particularly with regards to the massacre at Tuol Po Chrey.
“There’s not a really clear line that what happened at Po Chrey went all the way back to Phnom Penh,” Lemkin said in a recent interview.
With Case 002/01 appeal hearings set to resume on February 16, following the defence walkout in November over the SCC’s refusal to call Samrin and Lemkin, the filing reads that if either request is granted, Chea’s lawyers “may at that stage consider active participation in the appeal hearings”.