The standoff between the Trial Chamber and Khieu Samphan's lawyers continues on. After having issued orders for Khieu's lawyers to attend court and having appointed alternate counsel, the Trial Chamber decided that sending complaints to the original counsel's bar associations was the way to go.
The question here is what is really Khieu's lawyers' justification for not showing up in court and whether not doing so makes them subject to disciplinary action? They say they have to work on the appeal of the judgment in Case 001. Is this good enough a justification? The answer, under Cambodia's Criminal Procedure Code (which remains the law that governs all procedural matters at the ECCC regardless of how much hokum the Court has created to replace it over the years), is 'yes, it is.' Lawyers have no obligation to show up at any stage of the proceedings, in the event of which the court either advises the accused to retain alternate counsel or appoints state-funded counsel (which in the context of Cambodia usually means either 'foreign donor-funded' or no counsel at all). Now, doing this does not reflect all too way on the lawyer but it is a matter of reputation and not the type of conduct that subjects a lawyer to court orders to compel presence. Acting in the manner that sought to compel Khieu's lawyers' presence, the Trial Chamber overstepped the bounds of its authority. However, it acted well-within that authority when it ruled to replace the original counsel with court-appointed counsel. As such, what was lawful has been done and there is no reason to gripe to bar associations (particularly a body as preposterous ineffective and incompetent as the Cambodian Bar Association). Besides, this complaint having no basis in the law, some of us might recall how ineffective the Trial Chambers' complaints to Western bar associations (those of New York and Amsterdam) have been in the past. Perhaps using this complaint mechanism sparingly might be a good idea as it does not create embarrassment for the Trial Chamber when these complaints come up to babkis. In the meantime, given Khieu's original counsel are, essentially, court-appointed (it is the court that pays their salaries, not their client) in the same manner as their replacements are court-appointed, the former set should be barred from representing Khieu in Case 002 while being allowed to finish their presentation of him in Case 001 in an orderly manner. This will give the original counsel all the time they need to properly represent Khieu on appeal without stymieing the proceedings in Case 002.