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Newly Appointed Defense Will Work on Securing Nuon Chea's Pre-Trial Release


A top priority for Nuon Chea's representation will be securing the former Khmer Rouge leader's release from pre-trial detention, his new lawyer said Friday.

Nuon Chea enlisted Son Arun, a Cambodian attorney who has been practicing law for 11 years and has "specialized in defending persons charged with serious crimes, including terrorism," as his first defense lawyer, the tribunal courts announced Friday.

Reached by phone in Phnom Penh Friday, Son Arun confirmed his assignment and conceded the enormity of the task ahead of him.

"In Cambodia, we have never experienced trials of crimes against humanity. It is an international case," Son Arun told VOA Khmer, in his first interview as attorney for "Brother No. 2."

The two men have met several times since Nuon Chea's arrest Wednesday, and his client is in good spirits and seems healthy, Son Arun said.

Son Arun underwent UNDP training several years ago to help him better understand the tribunal process, he said. He will draw pay from the tribunal's Legal Assistance Scheme, because Nuon Chea cannot afford to pay him otherwise, Son Arun said.

Under the tribunal rules, Nuon Chea is also entitled to a foreign attorney, but he has not yet chosen one, the tribunal said in a statement.

Son Arun said the magnitude of trial would make it a challenge. "This will be hard for me to do, but I will try to do it," he said, "to defend Nuon Chea."

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