The government has failed in recent years to take steps to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence committed during the Khmer Rouge, according to the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday told Trial Chamber judges that they would need about 96 days to cover the remainder of charges against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan in their second “mini-trial.”
Speaking on the last of a two-day trial management meeting at the court Thursday, the prosecutors’ seemingly ambitious request comes after the first trial against the defendants lasted 212 days and is still being deliberated.
“We have proposed a plan to cover all remaining legal charges, all crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes…to cover gender, sexual violence, forced marriages, rape and the treatment of all targeted groups. And the plans, the witnesses we’ve suggested, would take 96 court dates,” said International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor Dale Lysak said the move would mean that the need for a third “mini-trial” could be avoided.
“The first trial was meant to provide a foundation for the rest of trials,” he said. “And witnesses were to speak to how the regime operated, roles of the accused, various organizations structures—those are complex witnesses and require considerable time.
“For this trial, there are less complex and time-demanding witnesses. They would not repeat the facts settled in the first trial. There are far fewer linkage witnesses, more focus on shorter, crime-based witnesses. I expect you will find that there would be more witnesses but less time in the second trial.”
He said the prosecution envisions that it would be able to hear testimony from crime-based witnesses quite quickly, and that the second trial could be adjudicated by the same panel of judges.
Nuon Chea’s international defense lawyer, Victor Koppe, said he believed that “the second trial is de facto the only trial that is going to happen in the near future.”
He said that Nuon Chea’s age—he is 88—and frail health call into question his ability to attend any kind of third trial.
“Having said that and realizing that a de facto second trial may be the only trial, what is important to note is, what is unclear is the question of all kinds of other issues that are mentioned, raised in the Closing Order,” he said.
The defense for Khieu Samphan argued that the second case should not begin until a verdict has been issued in the first.
Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn said another trial management meeting would be held to determine whether a second panel of trial chamber judges will be established to adjudicate the case.
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