Khmernews

ECCC Adjourned Hearing on Nuon Chea’s Appeal Due To Lawyer Conflict

Posted by khmernews on March 4, 2008

Phnom Penh: With the absence of a foreign co-defence lawyer, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia decided to delay Nuon Chea’s appeal hearing against his provisional detention on February 4, 2008.
Nuon Chea, former president of the National Assembly of Democratic Kampuchea, was brought from his home in Pailin and detained provisionally at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on September 19, 2007.

During the provisional detention, Cambodian and foreign Co-Lawyers Son Arun and Michiel Pestman requested for Nuon Chea’s release on bail, with Nuon Chea’s health problem as a ground for the appeal.

However, in the hearing on December 21, 2007, Cambodian and international Co-Investigating Judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde rejected the request by Nuon Chea’s lawyers for Nuon Chea’s bail. Therefore, Nuon Chea’s lawyers have appealed the decision of the co-investigating judges.

In the morning of February 4, 2008, the council of the ECCC’s Pre-Trial Chamber held the appeal hearing against Nuon Chea’s provisional detention. In the hearing, the accused Nuon Chea did not have Dutch Lawyer Michiel Pestman to join his defence team. He had Cambodian Lawyer Son Arun and International Lawyer Victor Koppe.

Cambodian Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang claimed in the hearing that Victor Koppe was not legally qualified and he had not been sworn in to be defence lawyer in the Khmer Rouge tribunal yet.

“This hearing is beneficial for the accused to whether he will be released or not, but if the hearing is canceled, it is the loss of the accused,” she said.

The 3 lawyers for victims or plaintiffs all raised the reasons in order to ask the Pre-Trial Chamber to continue the hearing since the accused is already very old.

Son Arun, Nuon Chea’s lawyer, claimed that the purpose of the lawyers who appealed for the bail of their client is to make it as soon as possible.

“Victor Koppe and I received an invitation from the president of the Pre-Trial Chamber on January 15, 2008 to participate fully in the hearing today,” pointed out Son Arun, “But now they have said that Koppe is not qualified to defend his client.”

Son Arun claimed that the swearing-in is the procedure of the Cambodian Bar Association, not the Pre-Trial Chamber’s, adding that the Pre-Trial Chamber should not have considered it as an obstacle.

Dressed in a long-sleeved, checkered gray shirt, the 81-year-old Nuon Chea stood up in the curved wooden dock and said, “I am Nuon Chea, the accused. Why should the today’s hearing be held? If I have only one Cambodian lawyer, then it is not consistent with international standards.”

“I think it is not fair. I need two lawyers in accordance with the internal rules of this court. If there is only one Cambodian lawyer but no foreign lawyer, [he] cannot defend me now,” said Nuon Chea, requesting the court to adjourn the hearing.

Pre-Trial Chamber President Prak Kimsan, after a retreat for deliberations with other judges, claimed that the judges have listened to the co-prosecutors and plaintiffs’ lawyers by asking for the continued Nuon Chea’s appeal hearing. “However, by basing on the accused’s basic right, the judges have decided to postpone the hearing until an unspecified date,” pointed out Prak Kimsan.

“The defense must notify the court today or tomorrow as to when Pestman will be present,” ordered Prak Kimsan, adding that if there is no information, on Wednesday the Pre-Trial Chamber will set the date for the next hearing.

It should be noticed that on November 20, 2007, the Pre-Trial Chamber held the first public hearing on the appeal against the detention by Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng prison, and decided to continue to keep him in provisional detention.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 16, #4507, Tuesday, February 05, 2008.

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