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Following Tribunal Indictments, Appeals All Around

Defense attorneys on Friday were preparing appeals for their defendants at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which on Thursday officially indicted four senior regime leaders for atrocity crimes. At the same time, lawyers for civil parties began looking for ways to have more victims included in a trial.

Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith will be tried together next year for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide against Cham Muslims and the Vietnamese and other crimes.

However, Ang Udom, a lawyer for former foreign minister Ieng Sary, said his defense team will appeal the official closing order, issued by investigating judges Thursday, on grounds of jurisdiction and misconduct.

Nuon Chea defense attorney Andrew Innuzi said his team was considering an appeal, but had not decided on which grounds.

Defense teams and prosecutors both have 30 days to appeal the closing order, which came after three years of investigation. International prosecutor Andrew Cayley said his office was “considering the documents” and whether to appeal.

In more announcements Thursday, investigating judges said they were considering only 2,123 applications from more than 4,000 purported victims seeking to become civil parties in the upcoming trial, a decision that civic groups said was too small.

“We are appealing the rejection order, and we are busy at the moment, because we have only 10 days,” said Silke Stuzensky, a lawyer for the German Development Agency, which is helping victims in the tribunal process.

The rejection of nearly half the applicants constituted a deprivation of victims rights to participate, she said. Civic groups have pushed for the greatest inclusion of victims possible.

“We believe that the number of dismissed applicants is significant and worrisome,” said Hang Chhay, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, another group helping victims.

Lawyers will have to travel to the provinces this weekend and explain to people why they were not admissible as civil parties, or they will have to find further information from rejected parties to submit to the court, he said.

“Even if we are not satisfied, we can't stop the train from moving forward,” said Bou Meng, a survivor of Tuol Sleng prison and active participant at the tribunal.

While some were worried not enough victims were included, Chhang Youk, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the 2,123 could be too much.

“It's a big number,” he said. The tribunal's victims unit is the “weakest” of the court's offices, he said, and with so many civil parties the process for victims could be diminished.