The Pre-Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal held a second hearing for jailed regime leader Khieu Samphan Thursday, as attorney Jacques Verges maintained he could not defend his client without the translation into French of tens of thousands of document pages.
Verges, renowned for showmanship in the defense of notorious figures, said French funding for the tribunal should have been used for translations, which have already delayed proceedings against Khieu Samphan since his first hearing, in April.
Tribunal prosecutors said Thursday 2.5 percent of the documents had been translated into French and 5 percent in English, arguing this was enough.
Verges said he opposed the argument completely, because “we don’t know how many documents represent the percentage.”
Khieu Samphan, now 77, faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role as the nominal head of Democratic Kampuchea. The aging leader told the court Thursday that if the documents in his case were translated, his lawyers would have “enough understanding” to have him acquitted.
“I believe that I would not be found guilty,” he said. “I would not be detained like nowadays.”
Cambodian tribunal prosecutor Chea Leang said the courts could not translate all the documents because of restrictions to time and budget, an argument Verges dismissed.
“We have been told that it is due to a question of money,” he said. “And I say this is a shame, because it is the life of one person, and his honor. Then, we have been told that they don’t have enough money to assume that which is necessary, but they mock everybody. France contributed $5 million, and we have been told that they don’t have money to translate.”
Cambodian defense lawyer Sar Sovann said Thursday that if all the documents are not translated, his client will be denied justice.
The defense team said 60,000 pages must now be translated, a bump in the original 16,000 pages originally requested. That request, made in Khieu Samphan’s pre-trial detention hearing in April, has so far prevented further movement in the case.
International prosecutor William Smith said the total number of documents in the case of Khieu Samphan was only 3,000.
Chea Leang asked the court to maintain its stance, that no further translation was necessary for proceedings to continue.
“The international standard of the court does not oblige translation,” she said.
Pre-trial judges made no decision on the translation question Thursday.
Meanwhile, civil parties were not allowed to make a comment during the hearing, having failed to submit a brief to judges ahead of the hearing, Prak Kimsan, head judge of the Pre-Trial Chamber, said.
Representatives of the civil parties said after the hearing Thursday they were concerned with the time delays, corruption allegations and lack of information coming from the courts.