Closing Statements: Khieu Samphan Defense
The Khieu defense had a fleeting moment of clarity by being absolutely correct that the scope of this case does not include the allegation of enslavement. This moment extended to, unlike the Noun defense who matter-of-factly stated that killing over 200 on an accusation of being a spy was not “that many,” the Khieu defense indirectly correcting the Noun defense by saying that “one victim is one too many.” Then the moment of lucidity was gone.
It is at this point that the Khieu defense launched a personal attack on the international side of the prosecution at the level of malice and malign unprecedented at this or other tribunals (at least to the best of my knowledge). First, Vercken characterized the international side of the prosecution as not understanding what is taught in the first year of law school. The international side of the prosecution is, for the most part, an Anglo-Saxon affair, with its members appearing to have made a conscious effort not to learn the Cambodian criminal process. With the latter having a French parent, Vercken’s frustration is understood to a certain degree. What is impossible to understand is the second statement in that string: The members of the international side of the prosecution are “tourists on vacation in Cambodia, backpackers who wanted to extend their stay in Cambodia and who wanted to make a few dollars by donning on their purple robes.” I cannot begin to describe how nuts this statement is except to say that what you feel when you hear it is aptly described by the German word ‘fremdschamen’ (which does not exists in English). Besides being wildly inappropriate in the courtroom, the record of the international side of the prosecution’s work absolutely does not warrant this characterization, however some of its members might have gotten to Cambodia and however they might have found their way into this court. Statements like this add nothing to the KS defense’s arguments. They are nothing more than pre-bar brawl insults that are suggestive of the defense’s desperation.
After this the Khieu defense sharply descended into complete foaming-at-the-mouth incoherence that was made up of a babble containing Jacques Verges’ favorite quotes of Talleyrand, B-52 pilots’ thoughts, children drawn and quartered by the Lon Nol regime, a slaughter of the Vietnamese by the same, and so much more (it makes one wonder what Vercken sees in the Rorschach inkblots).
The Khieu defense then proceeded to accuse the prosecution of pandering to the public which is ironic considering that there is no doubt that the Khieu defense was aware that the psychotic rant described here would not win them any legal points but might sway some members of the public.
Then the KS defense engaged in the following oxymoron: It stated that the court was nothing more than a theater while pandering to the Cambodian part of the bench by saying that they trust them as much as they trusted the international judges. Wouldn’t it be logical to conclude that if the court is in fact a theater none of the judges should be trusted? Further, what is the source of this newfound trust in the Cambodian part of the bench? What ever happened to the KS defense persistent statements that the Cambodian judges of the court were controlled by the executive and therefore could not be trusted to guarantee fair trials? It is true that Verges was not in the room but it surely felt like he was (I am sure Vercken will take this as a compliment, even though it is not meant to be one). After the break the Khieu defense snapped out of the barrage of insanity of the morning (perhaps, the magic powers of agua fria) it had laid on the unsuspecting audience. As part of this snapping-out, the Khieu defense showed a video interview with Sihanouk who clearly and unequivocally stated that during his visit to the zones “people were not unhappy and they were not famished.” It is obvious that he has made statements to the opposite since. This speaks volumes to Sihanouk’s character but there are two problems with this video: (1) Sihanouk has never been examined by this court (not the defense’s fault but the bench’s) which puts this video in the same category as Teth Sambath’s videos, i.e. evidence that is to be assigned little or no weight; and (2) Sihanouk’s contradictory and mutually exclusive statements about what he saw between 1975 and 1979 mean that some of them are a lie; Sihanouk has lied about some many things so many times and to so many people that it is impossible to tell which is which anymore, to paraphrase the judge’s finding in a recent British case (unrelated to Sihanouk). The moment of sanity hit the skids when the Khieu defense blurted it out – doubtless for the benefit of the gallery, rather than the bench – that Sihanouk would have been convicted, had he been brought to court. Maybe, maybe not, but what is important is why does this matter when Sihanouk is not the one on trial? (Vercken can write academically on whether he should have been but there is no room for this debate given the confines of Case 002/01).