The buzz at the court this morning was palpable, in anticipation of the final statements of the defense counsel and the possibility of personal statements of the Accused in Case 002/02. More media were present than at any time in the last two weeks of oral arguments, snapping pictures of villagers who have come to witness the final hearing in what has been a long, contentious trial for all parties involved.
The reporting on this website of oral arguments in the last two weeks has focused on the legal and evidentiary arguments presented by the parties. This author’s goal was to provide the reader with as complete and neutral report as possible, given the translation challenges, time constraints, and volume of information presented each day. Speakers’ language was edited for purposes of clarity, and to highlight the argument while limiting inflammatory language that distracted from the arguments.
The drama of the dynamics in this trial, however, does deserve mention. In just the last two weeks, this observer noted thinly veiled and not-veiled-at-all insults, accusations of bad lawyering, and expressions of “disappointment” that felt far more like expressions of disdain, or worse. The frustration of each of the four parties has been evident at different times, for different reasons: with an opposing legal team’s legal argument (or lack of argument), with an opposing legal team’s evidence (or lack of evidence), with the Chamber’s previous decisions, and with the political climate and controversy surrounding the ECCC. These tensions only highlighted the professional collegiality and respect that Khieu Samphan Defense Co-Lawyer Anta Guissé and Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Marie Guiraud showed each other, and each other’s arguments.
There was also drama of the legal sort. The Supreme Court Chamber’s appeal judgment in Case 002/01 played a central role in the oral arguments of the civil parties, Nuon Chea, and Khieu Samphan, but was barely mentioned in the prosecution’s final brief and closing arguments. This reporter is eagerly anticipating the answers to questions such as:
- What will be the consequence of the prosecution strategy of ignoring the Supreme Court Chamber appeal decision in Case 002/01?
- What, if anything, will the Trial Chamber do differently in its analysis of evidence, in light of the Supreme Court Chamber’s decision?
- Will the defense challenges to jurisdiction succeed?
- How will the Trial Chamber resolve the procedural issues throughout the case, and their effect on the principle of legality?
- What definition of JCE will the Trial Chamber apply?
- And how will the Trial Chamber analyze forced marriage under “other inhumane acts”?
- Was the Trial Chamber’s last substantive comment on using the facts in the closing order that have not yet been (and will not be) litigated in Case 002 allowed?
- And what will be the reaction to Khieu Samphan’s final statement, where his counsel was so careful to avoid Nuon Chea’s “the context of the period justified the actions of the time, and it was external players who committed the crimes” defense, only to have Khieu Samphan adopt the same during his statement, while adding an “I didn’t know” defense?
While every Trial Chamber renders a decision with an eye to its review on appeal, the issuing of a Supreme Court Chamber appeal decision just six months earlier and in the very same case is highly unusual, and cannot help but put additional pressure on the Trial Chamber to get it right in the Case 002/02 decision.
In keeping with the reporting of the closing arguments in the last two weeks, today’s report on the final statements of the defense has captured the language used in court, without transcribing exactly what was said. The choice of words of the speakers have been left unmodified and reflect the tone of the speaker, and not the reporter. Only Khieu Samphan chose to address the Chamber, and his remarks are closely recorded here, without editing.
At 9:01 a.m. Judge Nil Nonn, president of the trial chamber, began the last hearing in Case 002/02.
Today, Judge Ya Sokhan will be absent for personal reasons and will be replaced by Reserve Judge Thou Mony in Ya Sokhan’s place. The Greffier confirmed that all parties are present except for Nuon Chea, who has waived his right to be present in the courtroom but is following the proceedings remotely.
Judge Nonn gives the floor to defense counsel for Nuon Chea, Co-Lawyer Victor Koppe.
Mr. Koppe stated that this week the defense for Nuon Chea presented a summary of their 550-page closing brief. Both the closing brief and oral submissions were meant first and foremost for the Cambodian public, destined for both the older generations of Cambodians who lived in the 1970s and the younger generations born after the period of Democratic Kampuchea.
Mr. Koppe said that the Accused Nuon Chea feels a responsibility to the Cambodian people to learn the truth about what really happened before, during, and after the Khmer Rouge regime, and the closing brief is a result of that responsibility. Nuon Chea has said multiple times that the ECCC is a deeply flawed and broken institution. Mr. Koppe quoted Nuon Chea:
“From day one, it was my strong impression that this tribunal was not at all interested in exploring the truth, instead it seems to operate as though its mission is simply to endorse the instructions of a handful of officials in power and tell the tale, approved by the government before the tribunal was established. And I was right.”
When defense counsel for Nuon Chea finished their oral arguments about the existential threat posed by Vietnam to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cambodia and had explained what the policy of the CPK really was, Mr. Koppe said it was clear to Nuon Chea that there was nothing more for him to add. There was no longer any need to reiterate that this is a show trial, and the ECCC is a product of victor’s justice, a justice that only serves the interests of the United States and Vietnamese aggressors. As opposed to 2013, when Nuon Chea did speak at the end of Case 002/01, he now feels no inclination to respond to the rebuttal of the international co-prosecutor and his assistant. Nuon Chea felt that the closing brief and closing submissions speak for themselves. Mr. Koppe said that now Cambodian history has finally been rewritten and it is for the Cambodian public to decide if they accept this history, yes or no. He added that it is not to be decided by those who come from a country that killed and massacred so many Cambodians (referring to the United States).
Mr. Koppe next addressed whether he would speak. He said, “do I wish to address this ocean of misrepresentation of the evidence and this ocean of historical ignorance. This complete lack of even basic knowledge of the laws of evidence in criminal proceedings. Not really, Mr. President, not really. There are many reasons I do not feel the need to engage with the arguments of Mr. Koumjian and Mr. Lysak, but let me give two reasons.”
The first reason Mr. Koppe offered was that it has all been said before. He said that in 2013, the same prosecutors argued their case about the mass execution of former Lon Nol soldiers and officials at Tuol Po Chrey in April 1975, they used the same “bombastic, Hollywood theatrics” that they used yesterday and the day before yesterday. Then, too, “they were speaking with broken voices and somehow expecting that we would all spontaneously start crying with them in the courtroom.” And he said that then there was no rigorous or dispassionate analysis of the evidence. He claimed that in 2013, the prosecutors showed “the same fundamental lack of knowledge and understanding of criminal procedure and evidence law.” Mr. Koppe said the prosecutors had “no idea, no clue what the words beyond reasonable doubt actually mean.” And he claimed that, in 2013, they presented the Chamber with anecdotal and selective evidence, evidence with low probative value, meanwhile disguising it as some examples of some broader pattern of a policy and somehow thinking that defense cannot see right through it. Mr. Koppe added “Of course, we can.”
Mr. Koppe said he would have hoped that the 2015 report of Stanford University (criticizing the Trial Chamber’s decision) and the 2016 appeal judgment would have made the prosecutors change their strategy. He used strong language in saying that instead of responding to what was said in the report and the appeal decision, the prosecutors applied the same strategy in Case 002/02 that they did in Case 002/01. Mr. Koppe said that when he heard the prosecution speak, he was reminded of Arthur Vercken, who was Khieu Samphan’s defense counsel. He quoted Mr. Vercken, noting that four years ago, the Chamber had reprimanded Mr. Vercken for saying the following: “So the question I ask is this, in setting up the prosecution team, did they commit errors? Did they unwittingly hire a gang of tourists, who were about to end their holidays in Cambodia, backpackers in a hotel on the riverside, and who wanted to extend their stay in Cambodia, who wanted to make a few dollars by donning their purple robes and offering their service to the tribunal?”
Mr. Koppe said that the second reason he did not need to engage with the rebuttal arguments of prosecution was his strong belief that once the Cambodian public reads the defense 550-page closing brief and analyzes its more than 4,000 footnotes, the public will understand:
- The prosecution has not been able to dispute any of defense’s arguments on the Vietnamese aggression towards Cambodia, or its plans and ambitions to establish an Indo-Chinese federation with the help of CPK collaborators and with the backing of the Soviet Union;
- The closing brief consists of real history and not “fake” history;
- It was completely logical and lawful that someone like Ruos Nhim, the secretary of the Southwest Zone, was arrested and detained after three years of meticulous surveillance and investigation;
- As the Supreme Court Chamber has ruled, that it was Ruos Nhim and his henchmen who killed the Lon Nol soldiers and officials at Tuol Po Chrey and subsequently collaborated with Vietnam to turn Cambodia into a slave state;
- In the 1970s, collaboration with the enemy during times of war was treason and punishable by death;
- Why even the adopted son of Ruos Nhim told Thet Sambath and Robert Lemkin on camera that his father was rightfully arrested and executed for his treason;
- Ruos Nhim was to Democratic Kampuchea what Saddam Hussein was to the United States, but ten times more dangerous;
- We addressed S-21 and the important issue of the very limited credibility and liability of Duch, we argue that he had no knowledge of 90% of the daily operations of S-21, including matters of arrests and interrogations of the vast majority of prisoner and “their ultimate fate;”
- we argue how the selection procedure of prisoners at S-21 really went, that many people never ended up at what is now the Tuol Sleng museum, and that many people were released or sent to Prey Sar; and
- the reasons for defense’s belief that Chum Mey was never a prisoner at S-21.
Mr. Koppe thinks that the Cambodian public will appreciate why the Nuon Chea defense asked in our brief where the skulls and bones are of the additional 12,000 people that were allegedly executed at Choeung Ek. As he has said before, there are about 5,000 or so confessions, 5,000 or so photographs of prisoners, 6,426 skulls, so if 18,000 prisoners were killed, where is the forensic evidence of the rest?
He also believes that the number of 5,000 or 6,000 has a symbolic value in geopolitical terms, because it is roughly the same number of people whose names American diplomats in Jakarta, Indonesia gave in 1965 to President Suharto to have summarily executed. He said that these were names of teachers, trade union activists, intellectuals, etc. He referred to a footnote in the brief where Time Magazine applauded the deaths of these intellectuals. Next, Mr. Koppe referred to a speech that Nuon Chea gave in 1978 to a delegation of the Danish communist party. In this speech, Nuon Chea spoke at length of the fate of 500,000 victims who were members of or sympathized with the Indonesian communist party. Mr. Koppe asserted that these people were killed with the full support of the United States, which also started bombing Cambodia afterward and killed at least ten times more people than were killed in S-21.
Mr. Koppe next states that 5,000 is the same number of one single French detention facility in Algeria in the 1950s, to which Philip Short compared the alleged crimes in S-21 in his book.
Mr. Koppe asked if anyone remembers the minister of justice in France at the time, who was responsible for the torture and killing of the people in the camps. Mr. Koppe did not name him, but hinted that his photograph was on the front page of many European newspapers this week. Mr. Koppe said that the issue of the numbers and S-21 were issues that the prosecution never addressed. Mr. Koppe added, “yesterday, Mr. Lysak deceives the public that we were somehow afraid to address these issues. Some nerve he has.”
Lastly, Mr. Koppe said that “Nuon Chea couldn’t care less if you convict him again to a life sentence. He really doesn’t care because, rightfully so, he doesn’t take this institution seriously. But, Mr. President, he does have one final wish, and his wish is that the ECCC will translate our closing brief as soon as is reasonable possible into Khmer and that copies of it will be distributed in the same manner as the ECCC has distributed its own judgments. In his opinion, and also in my opinion, that would be the real legacy of this tribunal. Thank you.”
Judge Nonn asked Mr. Koppe to reiterate the position of Nuon Chea, if he wants to make his final statement, and Mr. Koppe said that Nuon Chea does not. Next, Judge Nonn gave the floor to Khieu Samphan Defense Co-Lawyer Anta Guissé.
Ms. Guissé began: “What deafening silence yesterday on the side of the prosecution, what deafening silence on the essential elements of law that were raised and in regard to which we never received a response. And yet, we waited and waited for an answer and I was looking at the clock expecting a response, but we did not receive any response.”
She continued that on the issue of dolus eventualis, nothing. On joint criminal enterprise and the insufficiency of jurisprudence, nothing. On the [principle] of legality, nothing. On the issue of the CIJs exceeding their jurisdiction, still nothing.
Mr. Guissé said that, she thinks the prosecution are putting too much of a burden on the civil parties, as it is the prosecution that bears the burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and unfortunately, it has been the civil parties who have stepped up and responded on the issues of law that were raised. The civil parties referred to a road map, but the prosecution explained that yes, forced marriage was something serious. To which Ms. Guissé responded, “as if we said something to the contrary, as if we did not explain that the real issue was the principle of legality.” Ms. Guissé reminded the Chamber, that in the discussion about forced marriage, the defense had explained what constitutes part of other inhumane acts between 1975 and 1979.
Ms. Guissé then responded to the prosecution’s statement that the defense we should count ourselves happy that they had been given the floor, that the Chamber showed proof of patience, and that the Chamber allowed defense to present the arguments of their choice. She responded, “So we should consider ourselves happy that we were heard, so we should thank you for respecting that fundamental, that elementary rule of a fair trial, which gives the defense the freedom to speak. Should that be the legacy of this tribunal? Is that what it is? Contrary to what the national co-prosecutor said, this is not a privilege, it is a fundamental element of international law, a fundamental element of a fair trial.”
The prosecution also said that the defense had considerable resources at its disposal, to which Ms. Guissé responded that she had noted a large number of international prosecutors and national prosecutors, but it was only two lawyers defending Khieu Samphan. She asked why does the prosecution have more resources than defense, and why did they not take the time to the arguments that defense raised?
Ms. Guissé noted that the defense had referred to the appeal judgment in Case 002/01, and provided details of the jurisprudence and the principles of legality that are violated, when defense explained that the decision of the SCC causes problems, when the principles of a fair trial are violated, what is the reason for that? She said that in response, she heard nothing, no legal argument.
Yesterday the prosecution presented “shocking” facts, as they referred to them, so as not to discuss technical issues of law. Ms. Guissé said that a few minutes after the prosecution started their rebuttal, the Khieu Samphan defense understood they would have answers, even though the prosecution themselves wrote that what was essential was to be able to respond to the adverse party. She asked “they didn’t do so in their closing arguments, they didn’t do so in their rebuttal, when are they going to do so? That was the last opportunity to respond.” She also noted that “[she] heard many responses to issues raised by the Nuon Chea defense, but very little to the arguments raised by the Khieu Samphan defense. Here, again, I’m obliged to make a remark, contrary to what the prosecution’s rebuttal may make us think, there is no collective defense of the Accused. There are two teams, there are two final briefs that are different. Two final briefs with different reasonings, with different arguments.” She also said she would have appreciated the arguments in response to the Khieu Samphan defense, and not to attribute to her defense team the arguments that they did not advance.
Ms. Guissé responded to Mr. Lysak’s comment that indicated an issue that both frustrates and concerns the Khieu Samphan defense team. Mr. Lysak had said that the Chamber’s work is facilitated by the closing arguments. Ms. Guissé said that she did not know whether the Chamber’s work has been facilitated. She said that prosecution’s closing arguments and closing brief are a magma of facts, no explanations are provided in terms of the legal characterization to the facts, as she has said before. So, it is up to the Chamber to sort that out. The same is true of the law, it becomes something almost secondary. She said that the proof of this was that yesterday Mr. Koumjian talked of a center in Sihanoukville, and when did the CIJs or the prosecution mention that in the scope of the case 002/02? It is out of the scope.
Next, Ms. Guissé said that the prosecution was distorting the defense’s position. For instance, Mr. Koumjian said that the defense did not challenge the prosecution’s logic on the fact that the legal definition of genocide, the destruction of a group is not limited to physical or biological destruction. That is false, that is proof that either he did not read our brief, or he did not understand it, as defense clearly explained that there must destruction of a group can only be physical or biological. It is based on the 1949 convention, it is based on facts, and it is not stretched to include cultural genocide.
In another example, let us talk about Phnom Kraol, the prosecution is asking the Chamber to do the work they should have done themselves. They say confidently that the evidence is weak and maybe the only witness was not in the buildings described in the closing order. They say that it is up to the Chamber to assess the evidence. But it is very basic, it is up to the prosecution to provide the evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt.
Ms. Guissé said that yesterday, they experienced an extraordinary moment, in that the legal characterization of certain facts by the prosecution was very vague and defense discovered that, with regard to Phnom Kraol, the prosecution does not support the crime of extermination. If the evidence, if the charges are not sufficient, it is this Chamber’s duty to acquit. Yesterday, Ms. Guissé said she heard Mr. Lysak explain that they were responding to the Khieu Samphan defense, as an aside, lasting eight minutes, in which the prosecution said that the Khieu Samphan defense ignored a rudimentary element of the charges relating to the facts and that they are confident that the Chamber would sort things out. Yes, the prosecution is confident, but the elementary rule is that this Chamber cannot use facts that are not relevant to establish the commission of a crime for which the accused is charged.
Ms. Guissé said that she knows that for the investigation we are talking about facts for the sake of history, but the prosecution is saying this Chamber can use facts to establish the commission of a crime that is not well characterized. Looking at Kraing Ta Chan, what defense said was that this Chamber was not properly seized of facts relating to torture at Kraing Ta Chan. Yesterday the prosecution explained that there was something in the closing brief but it was not there to establish the conduct of the accused and yet, if this Chamber reads the relevant paragraph of the closing brief, it specifically discusses Khieu Samphan, that he does not deny going to Trapeang Thma, and the last sentence says “Khieu Samphan personally observed the workers carrying out their tasks and urged them to keep working hard.” If these are not elements relating to the acts and conduct of the Accused, then Ms. Guissé does not know what they are. This is why this Chamber cannot use what that witness, Im Chaem, said to prove the acts and conduct of the Accused. This should not have been part of the prosecution’s closing brief, at all.
The prosecution has shown that everything can be used to say that Khieu Samphan knew everything about everything, everywhere. The presented a 2000 video in which Khieu Samphan refers to the arrest of Chan Chakrey and the prosecution said that is all the evidence they have. They also quoted Duch’s statements saying the Duch also referred to a meeting, forgetting to tell this Chamber that this was during a cordial discussion with an S-21 prisoner.
Ms. Guissé said that the prosecution is not concerned by the law; they almost did not respond to Khieu Samphan defense arguments. She asked, was it posture, to say that the prosecution has contempt for the arguments of the defense? She is not sure, but she does think there is contempt of the basic rules of procedure that will save the dignity of the trial. The prosecution does not talk about the facts in absolute terms, as they should in a criminal trial. They should talk about facts that have been properly legally characterized. She asked, is the prosecution so preoccupied with the law? They don’t have any answers, that is an admission, that you don’t have any answer.
Next, Ms. Guissé responded to the arguments raised by the civil parties. As she had said earlier, the civil parties were the only party that shed light on the issues that defense raised, because what is relevant in a legal debate is to have the positions of the different parties to help the Chamber make the ruling.
The first point was the issue of jurisdiction and Ms. Guissé heard her colleague Marie Guiraud say that this Chamber is seized of the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts in the closing order. She responded, yes, and no. Ms. Guissé had started her presentation on Tuesday with a quote from Marcel Lemonde, saying that not all the facts in the closing order were facts that were absolutely indispensable. In any case, this Chamber is seized of all the facts, only insofar as those facts are legally characterized by the CIJs. That should be part and parcel of the closing order, all facts that are mentioned for the sake of history, are not facts that the Chamber is seized of, if they do not have a criminal characterization. And that is a difference in analysis that we have with the civil parties, who explain why there is this divergence as regards to the exact extent of the jurisdiction.
Next, Ms. Guissé reviewed the following examples where the jurisdiction of the Chamber over the fact alleged was in question:
- On the issue of the Vietnamese, the civil parties are of the view that a paragraph also concerns that the facts in Kratie are in the scope. Defense says that if they are not characterized properly, they are not in the scope. This is the same for facts at Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.
- The extent of the jurisdiction at Tram Kok, all facts that receive criminal characterization. Ms. Guissé points out that it is an error by the Chamber to have included Ang Roka, and she hopes they correct it in deliberations.
- The prosecution in talking about Tram Kok, they referred to Ang Roka. Defense states that Ang Roka is not in Tram Kok. Nothing in the facts talked about Ang Roka, it is out of scope, and an error that Ms. Guissé will be repaired in the Chamber’s deliberations.
- The civil parties are of the view that some of the facts that occurred in Tram Kok no longer correspond to the characterization of murder or extermination. However, there is another point where we differ, given the drafting of the closing order, this Chamber is only seized of deaths due to hunger. These deaths were never a result of an intent to kill, so if the Chamber wants to recharacterize, there is a new element to address. There is nothing from the prosecution in final brief or closing statements about the crime of extermination at Tram Kok, so I conclude they come up with the same analysis as the defense and you will consider that in your deliberations.
Ms. Guissé commend the honesty of Ms. Guiraud, in that if she referred about Tram Kok, then Ms. Guissé knew that the discussion was limited to only the 8 communes in Tram Kok referred to in the closing order.
Ms. Guissé also noted that there was an application by the prosecution on the scope of the trial in which they take the same position as the Khieu Samphan defense.
About enslavement, to reiterate her statement, Ms. Guissé said that she explained with regard to what was in the closing order, in order for there to be enslavement, two components be necessarily met: first, ownership; second forced labor. No other fact other than those described should be considered by this Chamber.
With regard to torture at Kraing Ta Chan, my colleague said that the introductory submission, there is the introductory submission, and then there are annexes, and when the prosecution seizes the CIJs, they seize the CIJs with both the introductory submission and the annexes. But there is no rule supporting this. Ms. Guissé read the relevant rule in the ECCC Internal Rules and other sources of law.
In the introductory submission, it says that the prosecution “therefore decided to open a judicial investigation against Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Thirith, and Duch into the facts specified in paragraphs 37-72 in relations to the following proposed charges.” The charges and listed, and the facts are listed, and there is no mention of torture in Kraing Ta Chan.
Ms. Guissé suggested that in light of the time, this might be a good time for a mid-morning break. Judge Nonn agreed and the court was in recess for 15 minutes.
Upon returning from break, Judge Nonn return the floor to Khieu Samphan Defense Co-Lawyer Anta Guissé.
Ms. Guissé concluded where Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Marie Guiraud started, which was with the violations of the scope of the jurisdiction, there are three points:
- The civil parties said that Khieu Samphan did not appeal when he was charged. That is true, but is the absence of an appeal to being charged mean that there is a confirmation of future excesses of CIJs in their closing order? Or that defense has accepted closing orders to come? No, absolutely not.
- The civil parties said that Khieu Samphan did not appeal these issues of the scope. This is true, but the Khieu Samphan defense team could not do it because Internal Rule 74.3 envisages appeals before the Pre-Trial Chamber only if they refer to problems with the ECCC’s jurisdiction. The PTC confirmed the limited scope of the possibility of appeal saying “finally, with respect to the challenges of appeals to the defects of the indictment are not admissible at the pre-trial stage.” So the PTC has said that it is not possible to appeal unless it is on the grounds of legality. And this is a problem when this Chamber’s decision is that defense should have appealed at the PTC stage, but were not able to do so. There is no place in the Internal Rules that addresses for this particular situation and this is why this Chamber must take this decision because otherwise the Accused has no opportunity to raise this issue, and that is a denial of justice that cannot occur in a fair trial.
- The civil parties indicated that effectively defense was copied on Ieng Sary’s submissions, but this was not the case because it was not justified by the substance of Rule 89, and the Chamber makes a clear distinction between a submission that was submitted after preliminary objections and the preliminary objections themselves. If this situation as it exists now is not corrected then this is another denial of justice.
Ms. Guissé said that those are the comments that she wished to make in the defense of Khieu Samphan in responding to the rebuttal of the prosecution, insofar that they made a rebuttal, and the civil parties.
In conclusion, Ms. Guissé reminded the Chamber of what defense has been trying to say since the took the floor for Khieu, which is that the law must be applied with full impartiality, without any opportunistic manipulation, with dispassionate rigor, regardless of who the Accused are, regardless of the crimes. So, now it is up to you to decide what the legacy of the ECCC will be.
Ms. Guissé yielded the floor, and Judge Nonn, instructed security services to bring Khieu Samphan to the dock so that he can make his final statement. Judge Nonn gives the floor to Mr. Khieu Samphan to make his final statement before the Chamber.
Khieu Samphan began his statement at approximately 10:35 a.m.
Good morning Mr. President, your honors and everyone in and around the courtroom, respected venerable monks who are residing in pagodas across the country, and compatriots.
First, I would like to thank you Mr. President for giving me the floor, this is an opportunity for me to answer the questions posed by the civil parties in this case.
I know that they really suffered. I also heard when they spoke to me, sometimes referring to me as a murderer. How could it be otherwise, since this court’s inception, it has done everything in order to let you, the civil parties, to refer to me as someone who has the responsibility for all the sufferings. That is the sufferings inflicting upon the victims by the Khmer Rouge. But the term murderer I categorically rejected. [Khieu Samphan was emphatic in body language here.] For that reason, I want to answer the questions that were put to me during the hearings. I will do this in the strictest measure of my knowledge at the time of the facts. I will not say more about things that I did not know, because so far, everything I have said in my attempt to understand the tragic events of my country is held against me in order to conclude my responsibility. Many questions raised focused on the living and working conditions at the Democratic Kampuchea. I heard during the hearings that life was hard in cooperatives. I do not doubt it, however, those who consider themselves in senior positions believed that they had the right to accuse and have the right to punish other people. We should remember where the country was when the resistance Khmers took power and the urgency of the situation of rebuilding the economy. Our country was emerging from an unprecedented crisis, all areas in our countryside had been pounded by American bombs, in addition, we had been abandoned by those who claimed to be our friends, that is, the Vietnamese communists, who in reality, simply wanted to subjugate us in an Indo-Chinese communist federation. At that time, our people were living in fear and hunger and never forget the suffering of the Cambodian people at the very moment when the resistance Khmers took power. Who can deny this?
Moreover, unlike other countries, Cambodia was not an industrialized country and some people forget it today, at the time there was no gear or factory for equipment production. At the end of the war, we had to rebuild the economy urgently, and the famine was very serious in 1975. And the danger became more acute in 1977, when drought threatened to destroy our main crops and, at the same time, the conflict with Vietnam intensified. And in order to rebuild and defend our country, the only force we had was the strength of people. The wish of the communist party of Kampuchea at the time was not to subject the population to slavery, for the sole benefit of Mr. Pol Pot. However, [Khieu Samphan emphatically pointed here] that is the fable told by the co-prosecutors. That is wrong. The CPK leadership hoped to gradually improve the living and working conditions of the people, the leaders of the CPK hoped to transform our country into a modern agricultural country that would gradually develop industries. And that is for the people, so the people would have an abundance of food to eat and live better and better. And that is the truth.
Civil parties also asked me why they were forced to live in cooperatives. Again, the answer lies in the immediate need to solve the problem of hunger, and my compatriots, please think carefully, how could one envisage plowing, transplanting, and working the paddy fields individually under the strains of the Lon Nol aircraft and the B-52 bombs? In order to cope with this, cooperatives were instituted. In order to fight together for the production of paddy, no matter what, and to ration production, so that everyone could survive. And our soldiers at the front battlefields could be fed. Then, after the liberation in 1975, as I said, the problem of hunger became even more acutely [sic], cooperatives had therefore been expanded throughout the country in order to work together by collecting and organizing forces to build the irrigation system to the paddy fields in order to achieve the best output and be able to feed everyone. Is this something criminal? [Emphatic head shake.] Of course not.
Many other questions have been put to me concerning the regulation of marriage, discrimination between the new people and the base people, the fate of the minorities, and the practice of religions at DK. I did not know about these issues during the DK regime, and I discovered much more about these topics only after the fall of the DK regime and in these hearings.
It is therefore for me to explain the reasons for all the sufferings. If I have been able to talk about this or that topic after the fall of the regime, it is only because I have done my research on various documents concerning the fate of our country. That is, after 1979. And that’s all.
And finally, questions were asked about the reasons for the extermination of my own people, the CPK leaders did not exterminate our people. What was the interest in so doing? The manipulation of Vietnam saying it was self-genocide is in fact a Vietnamese propaganda, you can see more how Vietnam has profited by this manipulation, it will perhaps soon reap the fruits of its expansionist ambition. At present, Vietnam is already exploiting the land and sea and rivers of Cambodia. And that is with the blessing of the current Cambodian leaders. However, in addition, Vietnam may also come to the unexpected outcome of my condemnation for the genocide of its nationals in the DK. If this is so, despite all the factual reality, you will have agreed with the Cambodian judges, that Vietnam invited our country because of the fact that it never met the truth about its action. And Vietnam never have cooperation with this tribunal and finally, it has invented the acceptable idea of the Cambodian genocide. And if this happens, we will all observe the shameful and tragic irony that, [sic] in which Vietnam will ask those leaders who allowed it to take the reins of our country namely the big brother and the only gang of three of the CPP to present an official apology on behalf of Cambodia for the genocide of the Vietnamese.
I’m almost done, but before that, I want to bow to the memory of all the innocent victims, but also to all those who perished by believing in better ideal of the brighter future and who died during the five-year war, under the American bombardments, and the conflict with the Vietnamese invaders. Their memory will never be honored by any international tribunal. Thank you.”
Judge Nonn asked the security personnel to take Khieu Samphan back to his seat. Judge Nonn said that the proceedings to hear the closing statements by the parties in Case 002/02 has now concluded, after the evidentiary and closing statements hearings, he would like to inform the parties and public. At this point, Judge Nonn reviewed the charges against the Accused, the chronology of the case, the number of days of the trial, the security centers, worksites, and subject matter on which the trial focused, the role of the Accused, the number of witnesses, civil parties, and experts who testified before the court, the number of submissions by the parties and number of Trial Chamber decisions, the number and types of documents tendered into evidence.
The Trial Chamber thanked everyone who had been involved with the case, from the civil parties, witnesses, and experts, to the translators and all the tribunal staff and parties, to the VSS, to various non-profit organizations like DC-Cam.
The Trial Chamber declared the closure of the trial, and that now they will deliberate on Case 002/02, and they do not yet have a date for the announcement of the decisions.
Judge Nonn also listed the remaining sites and subject matters originally in the closing order and stated that the facts excluded by Case 002/01 and Case 002/02 would not go forward, but that those facts night be used a reference for Case 002/02. [The absolutely final comment of evidentiary substance in this trial left this reporter wondering about the jurisdiction of the Chamber: can the Trial Chamber use these un-litigated facts as a reference in Case 002/02? One of the central points in the arguments in the last two weeks was that the Chamber may only consider those facts of which it is seized, and that the facts it is seized of in Case 002/02 excluded those facts in the closing order that were not related to the sites and crimes in Case 002/02, and that Case 002/01 facts may only be included for reference because they were tested in a court of law by an adversarial process.] Judge Nonn also said that this would be the last trial in Case 002, and that counsel would have access to their clients going forward.
And with that, Court was adjourned.