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Khieu Samphan’s Boycott Unchanged, Despite Court Warning

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, left, former Khmer Rouge head of state, sits in the court room during a hearing at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. A U.N.-backed Cambodian tribunal has begun hearing the first genocide case against the country's brutal 1970s Khmer Rouge regime. (AP Photo/Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Nhet Sok Heng)

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan is maintaining a boycott of proceedings at the UN-backed tribunal, despite warnings from the court Monday his defense team could be reassigned.

Khieu Samphan, the former nominal head of the regime, has instructed his current defense team to boycott hearings, as they prepare an appeal to a guilty verdict handed down in the first of two phases of his trial, earlier this year.

He has said he will not switch defense, either, because it could affect his right to a fair trial.

Defense lawyer Kong Sam Onn told VOA Khmer his client had met with court officials from the Defense Support Section and told them “that his stance is not changed.”

Nil Nonn, head judge of the tribunal’s Trial Chamber, said Monday the court has three options for dealing with the boycott: appoint Khieu Samphan’s current lawyers as lawyers of the tribunal, taking away their ability to boycott; appoint new lawyers altogether; or a combination of the two.

A tribunal spokesman said Tuesday the court would consider its options if the boycott continues.