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Defense Teams Leave Khmer Rouge Tribunal Hearing

Victims from the civil parties protest for demanding an individual reparation, in front of an entrance of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, as its holding substantial hearing, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. A U.N.-backed Cambodian trib

Defense lawyers for Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan walked out on an opening hearing for the two men on Friday, leaving the courtroom and putting the second and final phase of the trial for the two men in momentary disarray.

The reasons for the walkout were twofold.

Nuon Chea’s team has asked for a disqualification of four judges, accusing them of bias and for failing to bring forward witnesses who are currently senior government officials.

Khieu Samphan’s team has asked for an appeal on an initial judgment against him in the first phase of the trial, when he was given a life sentence for his leadership role in the regime and the crimes committed during the forced exodus of Phnom Penh, in April 1975.

Neither request has yet been heard, but tribunal officials say they will be.

Khieu Samphan told the court he needed more time to work on his appeal, and his lawyers left the courtroom shortly after. Nuon Chea followed, telling the court he had also advised his lawyers to leave.

It remains unclear what will happen next with the hearing, which was to begin a trial of atrocity crimes for the two men, including, for the first time, genocide.