Prosecution and civil party lawyers wrapped up their final rebuttals in court yesterday, ahead of the scheduled final day of closing statements in Case 002/01 today, in which the accused themselves are scheduled to take the floor.
Civil party co-lawyer Lyma Nguyen opened proceedings by telling the courtroom that the Nuon Chea defence was making a “mockery of the victims” by claiming leaders were simply implementing benevolent economic policy.
“Only if freedom is slavery and only if black is white can the death of an estimated two million Cambodians be in the best interest of the Cambodian population,” she said.
Nguyen’s national colleague Moch Sovannary continued, telling Khieu Samphan that if he bowed his head to acknowledge responsibility, he might “gradually be forgiven”.
Co-prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian opened the prosecution’s rebuttal, addressing the defence’s claim that the trial amounted to a judgment of communist ideology by Western victors.
“The accused are responsible for some of the gravest crimes committed in history,” he said. “It is not their ideology that we attempt to discredit … they have [already] discredited it themselves.”
Addressing the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975, Koumjian quoted a Khmer saying – “the back foot follows the front foot” – to illustrate that although the top leadership may not have killed directly, they “made it absolutely clear how the people should be treated” to cadres.
The intent to evacuate Phnom Penh knowing that it would lead to deaths is enough to implicate the accused in a joint criminal enterprise, he said.
Prosecutor Keith Raynor said the accused “always intended the crime of forced transfer” and that the tragedy could not be explained away with economic arguments.
“I’m sorry you’ve got to die, it’s all economic.… I’m going to starve you and make you work 15 hours a day. It’s all economic.… How dare Nuon Chea assert and tell the victims of these deaths that this was for the good of the nation?”
Raynor was dismissive of Khieu Samphan defence’s claim that no witnesses who saw killings at Tuol Po Chrey had been heard from.
“The way the defence have submitted the case on Tuol Po Chrey, you would think that [nobody] in the history of criminal cases had ever been convicted of murder where there was no witness.”
Prosecutor Tarik Abdulhak characterised the accused as men who issued irrefutably criminal orders to turn the Kingdom into a “suffering nation of slaves”.
Despite the deception of the regime, Abdulhak continued, the “veil of lies” had been lifted, proving that the accused were at “the heart of the joint criminal enterprise”.
“Nothing less [than life] can match, or come close to matching, the gravity of the crimes that they are guilty of.”