Cambodia: Defence slams ‘showcase’ Khmer Rouge trialBy Clothilde Le Coz Oct 24, 2013 3:52PM UTC
“Are we supposed to settle this legal dispute through a debate between New York Times journalists?”* was a question defence lawyer Victor Koppe asked the Khmer Rouge Tribunal judge Tuesday, as he started his closing statement. He rejected the accusation charges saying that in this trial, “nobody is interested by the manifestation of the truth”; it has been created to punish these people, whose culpability had already been decided.
He raised the fact that the accusation based its arguments on second hands testimonies from foreign journalists and communist PCK publications. Ironically, he stated that the trial could have saved over 200 million dollars since 2006 if it was just to state what can be found in books sold online for about 41 dollars. “We hope there is reason why it was not done like this,” he told the judges.
Closing statements started in Phnom Penh on Otober 16. It is the last time that Nuon Chea, 87, known as “brother #2″ and the former chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge and Khieu Samphan, 82, and the former head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, could defend themselves against accusations of their roles in the evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975, the movements of population and the large-scale killings of the ex-military and civilian population carried out in Tuol Po Chrey until 1977.
This trial started in 2011 and Victor Koppe is the co-lawyer for Nuon Chea. Together with his Cambodian counterpart, Son Arun, they had two days to defend their client, based on these two points:
1. A “Showcase” trial?
On October 16, Nuon Chea asked to be transferred to another room during the proceedings as he was not feeling well. Since then, he follows the proceedings from an underground room where he can get medical attention and a TV to watch the trial. Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are living in a detention house next to the ECCC, where they are provided with 24/7 medical care. In this case, they are both charged with crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and genocide against the Muslim Cham and the Vietnamese.
*the quotes used in this article are a translation of the French interpretation during the trial proceedings on October 22nd. The full transcripts will be available at ECCC.