Many Waiting To Observe Nuon Chea’s February 4, 2008 Hearings

Posted by khmernews on February 1, 2008

Prach Pothorn

In a meeting on Thursday with Acting Foreign Minister Uch Borith, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Scot Machiel, has requested to set up a post of special advisor in order to assist in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) while the ECCC is looking for cash infusion from the international community.
Concerning the above issue, ECCC Spokesman Reach Sambath claimed that the tribunal might run out of fund in this year, but still carrying out tasks in accordance with the agreement’s spirits. “Up to now, we have been working in accordance with the agreement between Cambodia and the UN. We are practicing the agreement, and we do not have any comment on what “they” have said,” he said.

The ECCC was planned to spend $56.3 million and 3 years. But recently, according to a source close to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, the ECCC might spend up to more than $100 million and be extended through 2010. Meanwhile, some observers including the U.S. have expressed their concerns over the independence of the court’s officials, irregularities in the court, and the international standards of justice of the ECCC.

On Thursday, Son Arun, defence lawyer of Nuon Chea, former president of National Assembly and Brother Number 2 of the Khmer Rouge regime, said that he would show [persuasive] reasons in the hearing on February 4, 2008 in an effort to free his client provisionally. “The effort of the lawyer must be made while the release or detention depends on the judges. Because we are lawyers, we find ideas, excuses, and law on which we can rely so that our client will be released on bail,” pointed out Son Arun.

Lawyer Son Arun said as a lawyer he must try his best. Client’s lawyer and the accused himself have rights to ask for the hearings in accordance with law. Nuon Chea, former president of National Assembly of Democratic Kampuchea detained by the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been charged with the mass killings of an estimated 1.7 million innocent Cambodians between April 17, 1975 and January 6, 1979.  Nuon Chea’s appeal lawsuit was submitted through his attorney to be released on bail on October 22, 2007, and the appeal hearings will be held on February 4, 2008.

As a reaction to the abovementioned issue, Hisham Mousar, a legal expert who monitors the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc, told journalists that the important issue was that Nuon Chea and his attorney must guarantee all the conditions of the court regarding the 4 major points: (1) public order must not be affected, (2) witnesses are not harmed, (3) evidence is not destroyed, and (4) he must appear in court when the court wants to ask in a certain time.

Many groups, civil society’s officials, and common people are waiting to carefully observe Nuon Chea’s hearings on February 4, 2008. Amongst these groups, some have predicted that the ECCC will not allow Nuon Chea to stay outside detention on bail since Nuon Chea has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. In contrast, if the ECCC grants Nuon Chea’s release on bail, it would be unfair for Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former Tuol Sleng prison’s chairman, who was not allowed.

Up to present, five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders and people most responsible for the Khmer Rouge regime are being detained at the ECCC’s detention facility awaiting trial. The five suspects include Nuon Chea, former president of the assembly and Brother Number 2, Khieu Samphan, former president of State Presidium, Ieng Sary, former deputy prime minister, minister of Foreign Affairs and Brother Number 3, Ieng Thirith, former Social Actions Minister, and Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a. Duch, former chairman of Tuol Sleng prison.

the five senior Khmer Rouge leaders behind bars, including Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Thirith dared not acknowledge their responsibilities for the mass killings of Cambodians. On the other hand, some even boasted that they were “innocent” and “patriots”, despite the fact that almost 2 million Cambodians were killed during their reign of terror.

Observers of the Khmer Rouge tribunal are waiting longingly to see the hearings of Nuon Chea on February 4, 2008 and expect that the ECCC’s Co-Prosecutors and Co-Judges will not allow Nuon CHea to stay provisionally outside detention. Moreover, they hope that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders will get underway in June 2008 as planned, although the tribunal is facing budgetary shortfall.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol. 15, #3368, Saturday-Sunday, January 19-20, 2008.


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