The Trial Chamber President enjoined the parties to be mindful of the need to expedite the proceedings in the now fragmented Case 002. The prosecution agreed with that and invited the Chamber to interrupt its cross-examination of Noun Chea as the Chamber saw fit. Alas, the Chamber did not take the invitation.
This sent the prosecution off on an exploratory mission which all but took us back to the Big Bang. On this wild ride the prosecution took us back to the inception of Pol Pot’s communist party and made us sit through the insufferable debate over the meaning of the words ‘appointed’ and ‘elected’ with the accused (for the love of God, 4 people sat in a small apartment on Charles de Gaulle and decided that Pol Pot would be the secretary of the party; the conversation went something like this “Saloth, we want you to be the secretary; okay, we are done here, what do you guys want in your sour soup? sure thing, shrimp would be great; I know just the place”). What is a ‘people’s group’? Was it a part of the party? Did NC facilitate KS’ flight to the marquee? How many times did NC visit Office 100 when it was by the Vietnamese border? Who cares??? Maybe someone somewhere does and maybe the prosecution has a perfect plan the execution of which depended on this line of questioning. Maybe there is a genius plan behind all this. But, for those of us of average intelligence it is almost impossible to see what relevance any of this has to the temporal jurisdiction of this Court. But I am sure I am not alone who is grateful to the prosecution for not taking us all the way back to the Issaraks to find out how the Issarak movement influenced the impressionable mind of NC as a young man. Thank you for this. Please, do not take us back to the Issaraks. Because if this happens, the prosecution might realize that the character of the growing up NC would not be sufficiently evident to the Chamber without testing how the introduction of the agricultural tax by the French a couple of decades prior to NC’s birth affected NC’s mindset. Suddenly, out of nowhere and after an excruciating line of questioning regarding NC’s alleged meeting with KS at the bank of some river in Ratanakiri, the prosecution lays “the seizing of people” question on the accused. It was about time as our coffee just about started wearing off! All the Chamber needed to know before this question could have been put to the accused was that NC was a ranking member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) and a member of the Party’s Standing Committee and then boom! did you participate in the formulation of the policy one element of which was “seizing of the people”? Yes or no? And off to that wherever the road takes you. But, of course, before that we needed to know when and how the Labor Party changed its name to the CPK and who was in the room when it happened (I would much rather have found out what Pol Pot liked in his sour soup; I think having grown up away from the water he was a snail man (there are bigger ones that are particularly good with a salt and pepper mix with a little lime twist) but has this been tested in a court of law? I think the public has the right to know)).
The accused took all these questions and – like Clinton asked the certain question by the grand jury – tried to turn them into trigonometric identities and formulas (I am paraphrasing Jello Biafra here and I would like to give the man a shout). Regardless of the relevance of the prosecution’s questions, they have achieved at least one thing by these lines of questioning: they have shown us that NC is probably not telling us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; that, or he was the world’s least informed deputy secretary of a communist party. The prosecution has also made us wonder whether NC’s defense is really planning on going ahead with the ‘I knew nothing about the military and I knew nothing about anything but education (we normally use the unkind word ‘indoctrination’ in the English language for this)’ line of defense. If so, are they kidding? Either that or NC’s defense team has put all its eggs into the basket of the Supreme Court saying that the executive’s interference with the process has been so great that nothing but a termination of the proceedings against NC will serve as an adequate remedy. Let’s just see how that goes.
For the prosecution: please, do not take us back to the Issaraks.
For the Chamber: no, the taxpayers of the Western countries and Japan are not paying to hear about every minute detail of each accused's life (this is what biographies are for). For the defense: it might not seem that way but this country's criminal procedure does permit objections and, please, tell us that the defense is not relying on the 'I do not know' defense theory (I apologize for using 'theory'; it is too big a word for what we have seen so far).