Thursday, 7 February 2008

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Postpones Nuon Chea’s Appeal Hearing Due to the Absence of a Lawyer

5 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 546

Nuon Chea said that to hold the hearing would not be fair

“Phnom Penh: The pre-trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia decided on 4 February 2008 to adjourn the appeal hearing of former Khmer Rouge leader Mr. Nuon Chea, who had asked for release on bail, as one of his foreign co-lawyers was absent.

“Mr. Nuon Chea, the former president of the People’s Assembly of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, was brought from his home in Pailin and temporarily detained in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal detention facility since 19 September 2007.

“During the temporary detention, Mr. Son Arun and Mr. Michiel Pestman, Nuon Chea’s foreign and Cambodian co-lawyers, appealed Mr. Nuon Chea’s detention and requested his release on bail due to his age and health.

“But during a recent hearing, held on 21 December 2007, the co-investigating judges Mr. You Bunleng and Mr. Marcel Lemonde, denied the request for a release on bail which Nuon Chea’s lawyers had requested. Now the co-lawyers of the charged person Nuon Chea had appealed the co-investigating judges’ decision.

“In the morning of 4 February 2008, the pre-trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia held a hearing on Nuon Chea’s appeal, requesting release on bail.

“In the hearing on the morning of 4 February 2008, the foreign co-lawyer of the charged person Nuon Chea, Mr. Michiel Pestman, a Dutch citizen, did not participate in the hearing. Only Mr. Son Arun, the Cambodian co-lawyer and Mr. Victor Koppe, a foreign lawyer in place of Mr. Pestman, joined the hearing.

“Ms. Chea Leang, a Cambodian co-prosecutor, stated in the hearing that Mr. Victor Koppe was not yet formally accredited [in Cambodia] as a lawyer, and that he has not yet been sworn in to be a lawyer to work in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“Ms. Chea Leang added that the co-lawyer Mr. Pestman had been legally informed by the pre-trial chamber since 19 December 2007, but until now, the co-prosecutors had not been informed about his absence.

“Ms. Chea Leang, a co-prosecutor, said that this hearing is an important event for the defendant - to be released or to remain in jail. ‘If we fail to hold it, the defendant’s interests will be disregarded.’

“The lawyers representing three victims, as civil parties, had stated their reasons, asking the trial chamber to proceed with this case, as the charged person is getting old.

“Mr. Son Arun, Nuon Chea’s Cambodian co-lawyer, stated that the lawyers’ intention in appealing for his client is to have him released on bail as soon as possible.

“Mr. Arun added, ‘I and the lawyer Mr. Victor Koppe got the invitation from the chair of the pre-trial chamber on 25 January 2008 to rightfully participate in today’s trial.’ But now they said that Mr. Koppe is not eligible to defend his client.

“The lawyer Mr. Son Arun stated that the swearing in is a procedure of the [Cambodian] Bar Association, it is not an issue of the pre-trial chamber. But the pre-trial chamber considered this issue as an obstacle.

“Mr. Nuon Chea, 81 years old, wore a gray shirt, he stood in the dock and said, ‘I am Nuon Chea, the charged person. Why is there a hearing today as I have just one, the Cambodian, co-lawyer? This is not consistent with international standards.’

“’I think this is not fair. I need to have two lawyers, according to the internal regulations of the court. If there is only one Cambodian lawyer, and there is no foreign lawyer, the latter can’t defend me at this time.’ Mr. Nuon Chea asked the court to adjourn the hearing.

“Pre-Trial Chamber President Mr. Prak Kimsan said after a short deliberation that the hearing had listened to the comments from the co-prosecutors, the victims’ lawyers of the civil parties, who had asked to proceed with dealing with Nuon Chea’s appeal. But by reviewing the fundamental rights of the charged person, the chamber decided to adjourn the appeal hearing.

“Mr. Prak Kimsan added that the chamber asked the defendant’s lawyers to confirm in writing, today or tomorrow, the whereabouts of the lawyer Mr. Pestman. If they would fail to report on this by Wednesday, the pre-trial chamber will announce the next date for the hearing.

“It is also to noted that on 20 November 2007, the pre-trial chamber decided for the first time about the appeal of Mr. Kaing Guek Eav [also known as Duch], the former chief of the Tuol Sleng Prison, by deciding to have Duch to continue in temporary detention.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4507, 5.2.2008

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