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Lawyers fire back at Nuon Chea defence

Lawyers fire back at Nuon Chea defence

The prosecution at the Khmer Rouge tribunal has issued a response a motion by the Nuon Chea defence team to disqualify the current trial chamber judges on grounds of bias, saying the motion is founded on shoddy reasoning, and should be “dismissed outright”.

In their original filing, the defence argued, among other things, that the court’s refusal to summons National Assembly President Heng Samrin; the chamber’s seemingly dismissive attitude towards defence positions; and Cambodian judges’ purported inability to separate the case from their own experiences under the Khmer Rouge amounted to an unmistakable appearance of bias.

The prosecution, however, argued in Friday’s filing that many of the Chea defence’s allegations were a “mischaracterisation of facts and misapplication of law”.

“The Application is simply another volley in Nuon Chea’s longstanding and illegitimate strategy to undermine the [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] as an institution rather than confront the overwhelming evidence of his criminal responsibility,” the filing reads.

Much of the defence’s allegations of national judges’ bias are drawn from remarks given by ex-judge Silvia Cartwright, who said at least two judges on the bench were victims of crimes up for consideration in the upcoming Case 002/02, and that Cambodian judges could often be heard making disapproving utterances in court.

However, the prosecution argues, the substance of Cartwright’s remarks “merely reflected her personal speculation”, given that specific crime sites – and the specific judges themselves – have not been identified.

Court legal communications officer Lars Olsen said yesterday that since the matter was currently under judgment, he was unable to comment as to whether an investigation into Cartwright’s remarks was under way.

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