ECCC hearing for Khmer Rouge second-in-command delayed over lawyer dispute

[JURIST] Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [PBS backgrounder] made his first public appearance before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday, though the court quickly adjourned the pre-trial hearing. The adjournment was due to a dispute over Nuon Chea's Dutch lawyer, Victor Koppe [firm profile], who has been denied admission to the Cambodian Bar Association, a prerequisite to representing Chea before the ECCC. The ECCC's official statement said:

The Pre-Trial Chamber opened its hearing on Nuon Chea's appeal against provisional detention today and decided to adjourn in response to request by Cambodian defence lawyer, Son Arun. A decision on the date of resumption of the hearing will be announced on Wednesday 06 February.
The Bar Association canceled Koppe's signing-in ceremony after Koppe signed a motion [JURIST report] requesting the dismissal of ECCC Chief Justice Ney Thol, which violates the rule requiring foreign lawyers to be accepted before the bar prior to conducting court business. On Monday, the ECCC unanimously dismissed [PDF text] the petition to dismiss Thol.

Monday also marked the first-known occurrence of a war crimes tribunal giving full procedural rights to victims of the crimes. Under ECCC rules, four lawyers were appointed to represent Khmer Rouge victims [press release, PDF]:
The Internal Rules of the ECCC provide for the participation of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime in the proceedings as civil parties. They allow victims to play an active role in the trials, including all procedural rights. The rights of Civil Parties are comparable to those of the accused, and include the rights to participate in the investigation, to be represented by a lawyer, to call witnesses and question the accused at trial, and to claim reparations for the harm they suffered.
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]. Nuon Chea's lawyers had said they would request his release on bail [JURIST report] during Monday's hearing. 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. AFP has more.


 

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