Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyer chided over 004 references

Lawyer chided over 004 references

Lawyer chided over 004 references

A lawyer for former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea yesterday named two suspects in the court’s fourth case while cross-examining a witness in Case 002, prompting the Trial Chamber to order him to suspend his line of questioning.

Michiel Pestman, co-defence counsel for Nuon Chea, asked 67-year-old former district secretary Prak Yut about previous testimony in which she named fellow former members of the “Sector 35 committee” in Kampot province.

Prak Yut repeated some of the names, stating that one among them was still alive, before then testifying that all the members had died.

Pestman asked whether one of the suspects in the fourth case was a former committee member, to which Prak Yut testified that he was.

“Why do you always forget to include his name when people ask you about the committee members in Sector 35?” Pestman enquired.

Trial Chamber president Nil Nonn interjected when Pestman asked Prak Yut whether she was aware of Case 004 – which is still under investigation – stating that she was not required to answer the question.

When Pestman persisted, he was told by the Trial Chamber to confine his questioning to facts concerning the first “mini-trial” in Case 002. Senior assistant co-prosecutor Dale Lysak called Pestman’s questions “entirely inappropriate”.

Pestman told the Post yesterday the defence suspected that Prak Yut knew the government “does not want Case 004”, and they should be permitted to ask questions if it “goes to the credibility of the witness”.

Under questioning from Judge Silvia Cartwright, Prak Yut said that she had not been threatened or told to be careful about what she said in court.

In the past, government officials have publicly indicated opposition to prosecutions beyond Case 002.

Court observers said yesterday that although the suspects’ names had been reported, they remained technically confidential, and the suspects had still not been assigned legal counsel.

“Nobody is looking out for their rights in these proceedings,” Anne Heindel, a legal adviser at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said.

“The court is not following regular procedure in cases 003 and 004, and that’s creating these dilemmas.”

When asked whether Pestman could be subject to sanction under court rules, Clair Duffy, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, said this was a “matter for the chamber”.

“The rule is that any defence counsel should be able to raise any issue about a witness’s credibility,” Duffy said.

“The question is, should they ask to go into closed sessions before they do that?”

Meanwhile, under questioning from the prosecution yesterday, Nuon Chea testified that the party’s central committee “did not think about” how many residents were hospitalised at the time of the evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975.

“Everyone was evacuated, so those people who were strong they needed to help the poor and those who have the cars or the pushcarts can assist those who did not,” Nuon Chea said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman