Prime Minister Hun Sen must be publicly and robustly sanctioned for his remarks about the guilt of Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, who is now being tried at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, lawyers for the elderly accused have told the court.
In an immediate appeal filed on Monday to the highest judicial body of the tribunal, the international lawyers for Nuon Chea requested the Supreme Court Chamber overturn the ruling of the Trial Chamber.
In May, the Trial Chamber rejected an application by the Nuon Chea team for summary action against Hun Sen, who was reported by Vietnamese press as referring to Nuon Chea a “killer” and perpetrator of genocide.
“The court can do whatever it wants, but I had the right to condemn Khmer Rouge leaders,” Hun Sen reportedly said at the time.
While they rejected the application, the Trial Chamber judges did recognise that Hun Sen’s remarks were “incompatible with the presumption of innocence to which Nuon Chea is entitled”.
Although the Trial Chamber judges concluded that Hun Sen’s words risked being interpreted as an attempt to improperly influence the judges, the defence still protested, taking the position that a “bland and toothless” recommendation against further comments was insufficient.
“The extremely limited action taken by the bench amounts to neither a practical nor an effective solution to the problem of executive violations of fundamental human-rights guarantees in Cambodia,” the defence wrote in their appeal.
“Indeed, one rightly wonders if Hun Sen was even informed of the Trial Chamber’s hypothetical censure. If so, one can be quite certain that he has lost no sleep over it,” the appeal continues.
The Post has previously reported that Nuon Chea’s defence team has filed multiple motions at the tribunal and in local Cambodian courts seeking a remedy to alleged political interference in Case 002 by high-ranking government officials.
As yet, these motions have been unsuccessful.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]