Accessibility links

Breaking News

Nuon Chea Defense Seeks End to 'Political Interference'

Nuon Chea, far right, is expected to see trial for atrocity crimes in early 2011, along with former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

The international defense team for Nuon Chea is seeking the urgent intervention of the UN to end what it says is political interference in the defendant's upcoming trial.

In a letter sent Thursday to UN special rights envoy Surya Subedi and to the special rapporteur on judges and lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, defense attorneys said the reticence of six government officials to answer court summonses was harmful to their client.

The defense lawyers, Victor Koppe and Michiel Pestman, said they were making an “urgent appeal” to the government “implement your recommendations with specific reference to the importance of ensuring the integrity of the [tribunal] proceeding.”

Nuon Chea is expected to see trial for atrocity crimes in early 2011, along with three other senior Khmer Rouge leaders now in custody. With the trial fast approaching, the defense said it needed restraint from further interference.

Jasper Pauw, a consultant for Nuon Chea's team, said there have been “many credible allegations of political interference,” but none of them had yet been recognized by the court.

Neither of the rapporteurs was immediately available for comment, but Pauw said they had acknowledged receipt of the defense request.

Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said the special rapporteurs did not have a mandate to intervene, calling the appeal the “job of the defense team.”

“The Khmer Rouge tribunal is independent of the government, of the UN, of the special rapporteur,” Olsen said. “The Khmer Rouge tribunal makes decisions based on the law and nothing else.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan called the appeal “just an accusation to jeopardized the [next trial's] proceedings.”

Nuon Chea, 84, is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, for his role in the Khmer Rouge. He is charged alongside former leaders Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.