World Bulletin/News Desk
A genocide trial against two leading figures in Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime has been adjourned to next year after defense lawyers ignored an order to appear in court Monday.
On Friday, the court’s judges formally appointed the three lawyers of former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, 83, in an attempt to bring them under the court’s control.
The lawyers, however, have argued they are unable to defend Samphan in this trial while appealing his August conviction for crimes against humanity.
As a 15-minute hearing was underway in their absence Monday morning, the lawyers released a joint statement reiterating their support for Samphan and their refusal to cooperate with Friday’s order.
They also said that the appeal deadline of December 29 would only have set the case’s second phase back by a few weeks, and that they could then concentrate on defending Samphan on charges related to genocide, purges and the forced marriage of men and women under the regime.
The statement said Samphan had “made an informed choice to focus on the appeal, which is the only way of making a difference in his defense and for which time is running out.”
It added: “If we disagreed with our client, then and only then would it be our duty to resign. However, we support the decision of our client. We agree 100 percent.”
According to court monitors, Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn noted that with only six scheduled trial days left before the end of the year, it would be better to adjourn hearings until Jan. 8, by which time Samphan’s lawyers will have filed the appeal.
After the appointment by judges Friday, Samphan’s lawyer Kong Sam Onn had told The Anadolu Agency: “As defense lawyers, we are not court officials. We are independent professionals, so we assist justice. We do not work for the court so we cannot follow the court’s order when it is against the interests of our client. Otherwise we are going to have trouble with the client.”
Samphan and co-defendant Nuon Chea, who were given life sentences for crimes against humanity, led the regime that was responsible for the deaths of up to 3 million people during the 1975-1979 Killing Fields era.
Last Mod: 24 Kasım 2014, 12:47