Cambodian court declares former Khmer Rouge leader statement stands
Fri, 25 Jan 2008 12:32:00 GMT
Phnom Penh - Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal Friday announced it would not annul statements made by the man alleged to have been "Brother Number 2" of the Khmer Rouge movement, Nuon Chea, made without a lawyer present because they were consensual. The joint UN-Cambodian court set up to try former Khmer Rouge leaders said the man accused of being Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's right hand man, Nuon Chea, had been advised repeatedly to wait for legal representation but made statements regardless, and they were admissible in court.
In a statement issued through the press office, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) said statements made by Nuon Chea immediately after his arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity would stand.
Nuon Chea's legal team had argued that the statements should be annulled because he made them without a lawyer present, but the court found he had chosen to waive his legal rights against advice.
"In reality, it appears difficult to imagine a situation where the waiver could have been clearer and more deliberate than in this case, without questioning the intellectual capacity of Mr. Nuon Chea, which does not appear to be in question here," the court said in a statement released through its media office.
Nuon Chea was arrested in September. He had earlier stated publicly that he did not trust lawyers and could not see how a lawyer "who was not there" could understand enough to defend the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea regime, under which up to 2 million Cambodians died.
He later hired Khmer Rouge survivor, Cambodian lawyer Sun Arun to defend him.
The court said it found that Nuon Chea, who is believed to have been former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's closest deputy, was transported by helicopter to the court after his arrest, and was fed and rested when he made his decision to speak and was therefore competent to make the still confidential statement.
Octogenarian Nuon Chea is one of five former leaders currently in custody. Former leader Pol Pot died at home in 1998.
Remanded in custody since his arrest, Nuon Chea is scheduled for a public hearing at the ECCC on February 4 when the Pre-Trial Chamber will hear his complaint against provisional detention.
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