ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Verges: "the Prosecution is Mocking Us ... It is a Joke"

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan demanded his release by Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal Thursday on the grounds that his file has not been translated into French for his lawyers.
Khieu Samphan, 77, spoke in a hoarse voice after hearing arguments between prosecutors and his defence team, which includes famed French lawyer Jacques Verges and Cambodian lawyer Sa Sovan, and prosecutors.
The genocidal regime's former head of state and his lawyers argued that in the absence of the translation of the documents into French -- one of the court's three official languages -- Khieu Samphan would not have a fair trial.
"When my lawyers fully understand the documents, I am confident that as I have no guilt at all I would not have been detained up to now," he told the court, wearing a dark grey and blue collared shirt and standing in the dock.
Verges, who has defended some of the world's most infamous figures including Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Venezuelan terrorist "Carlos the Jackal", said only 2.5 percent of the 60,000-page case file had been translated.
"The documents I was referring to are almost completely in Khmer and only a small portion has been translated," he said, warning that "a tremendous task is still ahead."
But prosecutors argued that the appeal was inadmissible because the court's governing laws do not provide for appeals relating to the issue of translation.
They asked Khieu Samphan's lawyers to cooperate, saying that the Khmer Rouge figure himself can understand them and that only a fraction of the documents were substantial.
Verges responded, saying that the prosecution "are mocking us... it is a joke.... We need to see documents in French."
Judges said they would rule on the matter at a later date.
Khieu Samphan was detained by the court in November last year on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Khmer Rouge's brutal 1975-1979 regime.
He went before the court for the first time in April to appeal against his pre-trial detention.
But the judges adjourned the hearing and warned Verges over his behaviour after he said he was unable to act for his client because court documents had not been translated.
A fierce anti-colonialist, Verges, who was born in Thailand, reportedly befriended Khieu Samphan and other future Khmer Rouge leaders while at university in Paris in the 1950s.
Khieu Samphan is one of five Khmer Rouge leaders who have been detained by the court for their alleged roles in the regime.
Up to two million people are believed to have been executed or died of starvation and overwork as the communist regime emptied Cambodia's cities, exiling millions to vast collective farms in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia.
Cambodia's genocide tribunal convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of haggling between the government and the United Nations .


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