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Khieu Samphan Awaits Lawyer Confirmation

Jailed Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan has selected a replacement defense lawyer from two likely candidates, but neither had confirmed a position Friday.

A new candidate is likely to be approved by next week, tribunal officials said.

Khieu Samphan's former Cambodian lawyer, Say Bory, resigned early last week, leaving on opening in the defense team, which includes the French attorney Jacques Verges.

"I went to meet Khieu Samphan this morning, and [he] gave me the name that he read in the directory of lawyers," Say Bory said.

He chose an experienced lawyer who can speak French, but Khieu Samphan must wait for final confirmation from the candidate, Say Bory said.

Rupert Skilbeck, head of the tribunal's defense section, said it would take some time because of the importance of the decision.

Khieu Samphan must make sure he chooses a lawyer he is confident with and who can sustain a trial that could last two to three years, Skilbeck said.

Family members of Khieu Samphan could not confirm his choice Friday.

A source close to the tribunal said Khieu Samphan indicated interest in two names, Heng Chy, a former judge and former chief of the Appeals Court, and Sar Sovann, who holds a doctorate of law from France.

Heng Chy said Friday he had discussed the position with Say Bory, but at age 76, as old as his would-be client, sitting in long tribunal hearings and poring over thousands of pages of documents would be difficult.

Sar Sovann said Friday he was likely to lose the job to Heng Chy, but would not comment further.