Khieu Samphan, the former head of state for Democratic Kampuchea, has enlisted the counsel of Jacque Verges, a French lawyer who is a longtime friend of Pol Pot and infamous for defending international war criminals, terrorists and assassins.
Verges is expected to arrive in August to begin defense preparations, the aging Khmer Rouge leader told VOA Khmer by phone from Pailin on Thursday.
Khieu Samphan is potentially one of the leaders who will be prosecuted by the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which last week drafted a confidential list of five suspects to be investigated. None of the suspects for investigation has been named.
Verges, a longtime friend of Saloth Sar, or Pol Pot, has defended international terrorist Carlos the Jackal, Nazi security chief Klaus Barbie, also known as the Butcher of Lyon, and former Serbian president Slobodan Milosovic. He was once considered as defense for Saddam Hussein. Verges is the son of a French diplomat and a Vietnamese mother and has made a career of using his defense position to assault Western and colonial mores.
Verges is known as the Devil's Advocate, "for his spirited defense of some of the worst monsters of our time," the US television news program "60 Minutes" reported in 2004, ahead of Saddam Hussein's trial, though Verges ultimately did not defend the former Iraqi dictator.
Khieu Samphan said he needed an international lawyer for an international court, if he is named as a defendant in Cambodia's joint tribunal.
"I think that it is a court with international participation, with international prosecutors," Khieu Samphan said. "Therefore, the lawyers should be international too, to be balanced."
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Khieu Samphan had a right to hire an attorney even if he hasn't been named as a defendant.
"He does not know if he was charged or not," Reach Sambath said. "He is looking for someone quite fast, while the names have not been announced yet."