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Hun Sen Urges Understanding for Khmer Rouge Leaders’ Defense Teams

Khieu Samphan, second from right, former Khmer Rouge head of state, and Noun Chea, left, who was the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, is seen on a screen at the court's press center of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday called on the Cambodian people to be understanding of the attorneys for jailed Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

“Certain citizens are angry with the lawyers of the accused persons at the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” Hun Sen said in a public speech Tuesday. “They are doing their jobs, even if their clients were mistaken, they have to prove that their clients are right,” he said.

The two former leaders are currently in the midst of the second and final trial phase at the UN-backed court, where they face numerous atrocity crimes charges, including genocide. They are each defended by a team of Cambodian and international attorneys.

While defending them on the one hand, Hun Sen on Tuesday also criticized the defense teams for some of their tactics, including boycotting proceedings last year, calling it “idiocy” that delayed the proceedings.