Verdict for Samphan expected in 6 months

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Khieu Samphan during his appeal hearing on Wednesday. ECCC

The Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on August 19 concluded its four-day appeal hearing for former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, with a verdict expected in the next six months.

Samphan was sentenced in 2018 to life in prison for crimes against humanity, genocide against ethnic Vietnamese and war crimes when the Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia from April 17, 1975, to January 6, 1979.

During the four-day hearing, the defence and prosecution presented their arguments with co-prosecutors and civil party lawyers agreeing that the Trial Chamber ruling in 2018 was correct and requested the Supreme Court Chamber to annul the appeal.

However, Samphan’s defence team argued he was not the person most responsible for the atrocity or personally responsible for the crimes.

“It is difficult for the public to understand our position as it is related to the law and what we are now attempting at the ECCC is to make decisions based on activities from 20 years ago,” said defence lawyer Anta Guisse.

She argued that the crimes committed at that time should be tried according to the laws that existed then. However, the Trial Chamber did not followed that procedure, she said.

National co-defence Kong Sam Onn argued that Samphan was not personally responsible for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period.

“Claiming that Khieu Samphan was personally responsible is incorrect as he had a minor role to play in the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.

The national co-prosecutor said she did not know when the Supreme Court Chamber will issue a ruling on the appeal, but she said it may not be earlier than six months.