The Trial Chamber of the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has refused a request from defendant Khieu Samphan to have the next phase of his atrocity crimes trial delayed.
Khieu Samphan, the former head of state for the regime, is on trial for crimes including genocide, alongside Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea.
The second of two trial phases is expected to begin later this year. But Khieu Samphan had asked that the second phase be delayed until a verdict is delivered in the first.
In a statement, the Trial Chamber said that it would not wait to open proceedings in the second phase, safeguarding the rights of the accused to an “expeditious trial.”
Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra told VOA Khmer said the decision also was made to “safeguard the fundamental interests of the civil parties and victims in achieving meaningful and timely justice.”
Kong Sam Onn, a defense attorney for Khieu Samphan, said the decision would hurt his client’s rights.
The upcoming phase of the trial contains charges related to all of Democratic Kampuchea, the official name of the Khmer Rouge, and “not a specific deed done by Khieu Sampan,” he added.
Khmer Rouge victims and other advocates have pushed for this trial to be wrapped up as soon as possible, with both defendants aging and with funding for the tribunal waning.
The tribunal is expected to issue a verdict in the first phase of this trial in June.