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Duch team disputes civil party eligibility

Duch team disputes civil party eligibility

Tribunal says interim international prosecutor will succeed outbound Petit by September 1.

THE defence team for Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, on Wednesday challenged the applications of 18 civil parties, saying, among other things, that lawyers had failed to demonstrate kinship links between their clients and Tuol Sleng victims.

In her rundown of the objections, international defence lawyer Marie-Paule Canizares repeatedly said the applications lacked documentation proving kinship links, and she challenged multiple applications in part because they were "only mentioning friends".

The objections prompted civil party lawyers to argue that both the Tuol Sleng archives and the family records of many Cambodians were incomplete. Civil party lawyer Fabienne Trusses-Naprous also said civil parties should be able to file applications based on the loss of "close acquaintances". UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said after the proceedings that the Trial Chamber had yet to decide whether such applications are admissible.

Challenges to civil party testimony began Tuesday and were set to continue today. Olsen said the defence team planned to challenge the applications of 24 civil parties who have not yet been heard as well as an undisclosed number of civil parties who have appeared in person or had statements read out before the court.

The Trial Chamber has given no indication as to how or when it will rule on the challenges. If challenges are sustained in formal decisions, civil parties will be able to lodge appeals with the tribunal's Supreme Court Chamber.

Interim prosecutor
A UN court spokesman said Wednesday that neither of the two candidates nominated to replace outgoing international co-prosecutor Robert Petit would be ready to assume the role by September 1, the date Petit's resignation goes into effect, and that the UN had nominated one candidate to serve as an interim replacement.

Olsen said he could provide no information on the candidate. He said the nominee for interim prosecutor would be subject to the same review process as the permanent replacement, meaning he or she must be approved by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy​ (SCM).

Bun Yaynarin, an assistant to Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathna, said the minister would forward the nomination to the council after receiving it from Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, though he said it had not been received as of Wednesday.

Olsen said he expected the interim prosecutor to begin work by September 1.

Petit announced on June 23 that he would be leaving the tribunal "for personal and family reasons".

Also Wednesday, the court announced that the number of visitors to the Duch trial had reached 20,250. During four days of hearings last week, the court received 2,176 visitors, the highest weekly total since the beginning of substantive hearings in late March.

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