[JURIST] Lawyers for former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [GenocideWatch report] on Wednesday filed a motion with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] requesting the removal of Cambodian military court chief Ney Thol from Nuon Chea's scheduled February 4 pre-trial hearing and all future proceedings relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity charges [statement, PDF] against Nuon Chea because of alleged impartiality. According to the motion, Ney Thol, who is a member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) [party website, in English], sentenced an opposition leader to jail in a questionable 2005 trial which was biased against the defense. The opposition leader was later pardoned. The motion claims that Ney Thol's "participation in highly questionable judicial decisions" indicates his biases and justifies his removal.
The Khmer Rouge is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. Nuon Chea was known as Brother Number Two in the Khmer Rouge, indicative of his high position in the communist movement led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998 having never been prosecuted for alleged war crimes. He was arrested and charged [JURIST report] in September and said that he was never in the position to order the deaths attributed to him, but that he will cooperate with the ECCC [JURIST report]. The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended 2005, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials, but to date, no top officials have faced trials. The first trials are expected to begin this year. AP has more.