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Nuon Chea Considering Court-Appointed Attorney

The detained Khmer Rouge commander Nuon Chea is considering accepting a court-appointed lawyer after he was charged by tribunal authorities Wednesday with crimes against humanity and war crimes, a court official said.

A spokesman for the tribunal said the courts were drafting the necessary paperwork to provide Nuon Chea with an attorney.

Nuon Chea has said in the past he would defend himself in a tribunal.

The hard-line Khmer Rouge ideologue, who many scholars agree was behind the brutal policies of the regime, has said he welcomes his day in court, to defend the actions of Democratic Kampuchea, which he claims was protecting the sovereignty of the Khmer people for Vietnamese and US invaders.

"We are now preparing the documents for him [to have a lawyer]," tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said. "He suggested a lawyer from Battambang, and when we are ready to process those documents for him, we will publicly release them."

Reach Sambath did not name the attorney, but said Nuon Chea was no longer considering defending himself in a trial.

"Yesterday he understood that he should have a lawyer, and we are happy that he wants a lawyer," Reach Sambath said. "So we are fulfilling his need."

"We think that it's better to have both sides balanced" in terms of lawyers, said Seng Theary, executive director of Center for Social Development. "Don't let him be without a lawyer or without a technical expert."