Former KR Leaders Searching For Lawyers

Posted by khmernews on September 3, 2007


Former leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime are looking for Cambodian lawyer and/or foreign lawyer to represent them in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) established to try former senior Khmer Rouge (KR) leaders.

Former DK Head of State Khieu Samphan has already selected a French attorney to defend him. Although the ECCC [or] the KR Tribunal has yet to tell the names of the 5 suspects to be charged, Khieu Samphan thinks he must be amongst those people who are thought to have been related to the mass murder of almost 2 million people during the “killing fields” regime and who the hybrid court has identified in the Introductory Submission.

However, the ECCC still hasn’t revealed the names of people responsible for the KR regime which was in power from April 17, 1975 to January 6, 1979.

“French lawyer Jacques Vergés will arrive at Cambodia in early August to prepare the legal procedure to defend me,” Khieu Samphan told a foreign radio broadcasted in Khmer.

Khieu Samphan said that he decided to select the foreign lawyer because the hybrid court is also participated by the international side, adding that in order to conform to the legal procedure he selected the foreign lawyer to represent him in court. “As there are international judges and prosecutor, there should also be international lawyers, so that it has a balance,” he said.

ECCC’s defense support section announced that they would send the first foreign lawyer list to the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) early next month. The CBA will check and decide who will be allowed to practise in the Khmer Rouge trials. 

KR Tribunal Spokesman Reach Sambath claimed that at present although the court still hasn’t charged any KR leaders, they can find lawyer to defend them. However, Reach Sambath considered the finding of lawyer of Khieu Samphan too early.

“It is his rights, but he doesn’t know whether he will be charged or not,” said Reach Sambath. “The names still haven’t been released, but he has found a lawyer. [However], he has rights to find lawyers.”

Former KR leaders have been generally blamed for their relation in mass murder of as many as 1.7 million Cambodian during the DK regime. Nevertheless, the KR court established under the cooperation between the United Nations and Cambodian government still hasn’t determined a clear date for the KR trial.

82-year-old Former DK National Assembly President Nuon Chea once denied that he was related with the mass killings and claimed that he would clarify before court of justice if subpoenaed.

“My health is deteriorating due to old age. I might be amongst the five people, but I am happy to clarify in court if I am invited,” he said, adding that he would not be afraid when the court called for him. He doesn’t expect that he will get justice from the ECCC, however. He has intended that he will select a Cambodian lawyer rather than a foreign lawyer.

Robert Petit has received approximately 100 application forms since the opening of the registration earlier this week. The registration will take one month and a list of foreign lawyers will be made after checking.

“There have been a lot of lawyers around the world submitting their application forms since the opening of the registration. Now, we’re in the middle of the process and will submit those application forms to the CBA to decide in one month time,” he said.

The problem over foreign lawyer registration created an obstacle while Cambodian and international judges were drafting the crucial Internal Rules for the KR trials several months ago. A deadlock took place when the CBA, led by Ky Tech, set the foreign lawyer registration fees too high.

Cambodian lawyers are worried that after registering, they will not have a case to handle, and some are concerned about the decision made by the CBA which might be politically influenced.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Sralanh Khmer, Vol. 03, #464, Saturday, July 28, 2007.


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