The Pre-Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal has rejected a request by the defense team of Nuon Chea to call a former Cambodian prime minister to testify in an upcoming case.
Nuon Chea’s defense attorney, Son Arun, had wanted to call Pen Sovann, Cambodia’s first prime minister after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. He had appealed an investigating judges decision not to call Pen Sovann, but he said he received news Wednesday his appeal had been rejected.
Son Arun told VOA Khmer Wednesday the court was failing to call witnesses to history, including six government officials that have so far refused to answer summonses by the investigating judges.
“This is not seen as justice,” Son Arun said.
Pen Sovann, who is now a member of the minority Human Rights Party, was the prime minister under the first government put in place by the Vietnamese after they ousted the Khmer Rouge and began a decade-long occupation of Cambodia.
He was also the secretary-general of the Kampuchea People’s Revolutionary Party, the communist precursor to today’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party. He fought with troops alongside the Vietnamese as they fought the Khmer Rouge.
Pen Sovann told VOA Khmer on Wednesday he would be happy to testify at the tribunal, which is moving toward the prosecution of four jailed Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocity crimes.
“I am a living witness that dares to speak the truth against those who are in detention in Phnom Penh,” he said, adding he had many documents and knowledge about killings under the Khmer Rouge.
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Wednesday the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber was final, but he did not detail the reasoning behind it.