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Bar Association Waits for Foreign Lawyer Applications

The Cambodian Bar Association said Tuesday it was awaiting more applications for foreign lawyers to represent defendants under a trial by the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Bar association spokesman Nou Tharith said the group had approved the application of French lawyer Francois Roux to represent Kaing Khek Iev, the Tuol Sleng torture chief known as Duch, who was indicted on crimes against humanity last week.

Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan has said he hired French lawyer Jacques Verges as to defend him should he be called to trial. Brother No. 2, Nuon Chea, has said he will defend himself if indicted.

Nou Tharith said Tuesday Verges would have to undergo the approval process.

About 20 foreign lawyers have so far expressed interest in defending former Khmer Rouge leaders, Rupert Skilbeck, head of the tribunal's defense section, said recently. These names will gradually be handed to the bar association for approval, he said.

The names of foreign lawyers will be handed to the bar association once a defendant is indicted, said Sok Samoeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.

"The reason for not forwarding the names of the foreign lawyers at this point is that no one knows if their clients will be indicted or not," he said.

Earlier this month, the tribunal's prosecutors forwarded a confidential list of five suspects to tribunal investigators. Four of them are under investigation and have yet to be formally charged, their names not yet released.

Under tribunal rules, a Cambodian lawyer can defend a suspect alongside a foreign lawyer, and the accused has the right to self defense.

Tribunal observers expect the process to be lengthy, but investigating judge Marcel LeMonde said recently the first hearing will likely take place in the first quarter of 2008.