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Defence ‘gag’? Khmer Rouge tribunal cuts scope of final arguments

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Victor Koppe (right) and the defence teams take their seats at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in 2011 during the first day of opening statements in Case 002. ECCC

Defence ‘gag’? Khmer Rouge tribunal cuts scope of final arguments

The Khmer Rouge tribunal trial chamber has reduced the amount of time for final arguments, a move the Nuon Chea defence claims attempts to “gag” its client.

Due to a delay in the revision of court transcripts, the prosecution had requested an additional two weeks to submit closing briefs in Case 002/02, in which former senior Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan stand accused of crimes against humanity, including genocide.

International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian seen questioning a witness at a ECCC session in 2015. Nhet Sok Heng/ECCC
International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian seen questioning a witness at a ECCC session in 2015. Nhet Sok Heng/ECCC

It suggested five days, instead of 10, be reserved for closing statements. In an apparent compromise, the trial chamber ruled that briefs should be submitted on May 2, with final arguments to begin on June 13 for seven and a half days.

Nuon Chea lawyer Victor Koppe said the change was upsetting and that the trial chamber has instructed closing briefs should be confidential, which he deemed “outrageous”.

“The public . . . deserve to know the full range of our arguments. The [trial chamber] and [prosecution] effectively want to gag us. It won’t work,” he said.

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