Civil Party Co-Lawyers Present Their Closing Arguments

At 9 a.m. on June 13, 2017, Judge Nil Nonn, President of the Trial Chamber, opened the proceedings for the hearing of closing arguments in Case 002/02. He called on the Greffier, who confirmed that all parties were present.

Judge Nonn reminded the public of the schedule for closing arguments. He noted the timely filing of closing briefs by all parties.

The schedule for the hearing of closing arguments will be as follows:

  • Civil Parties will have one day to present;

  • Co-Prosecutors will have two days to present;

  • Nuon Chea will have two days to present;

  • Khieu Samphan will have one and a half days to present;

  • One day is reserved for rebuttal by Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers and the Co-Prosecutors; and

  • Final rebuttal and the final statements of Accused, 4 hours, on June 23.

Judge Nonn stated that after the hearings on final arguments conclude, the Chamber will close the proceedings and they will notify the public of the date of judgment at the appropriate time.

Next, Judge Nonn reminded the parties to speak clearly and slowly for the translators.

He also stated that he had instructed guards to bring accused Nuon Chea to the courtroom, according to recommendations made by the doctor at the ECCC who provided a certificate to the Chamber this morning. According to the doctor, Nuon Chea is physically able to sit in the courtroom for about 20 minutes. Judge Nonn informed Nuon Chea that after this period, if he feels that he cannot stay in the courtroom, upon request to the Chamber, he may return to a room downstairs. This request was made approximately 25 minutes into the hearing, and Nuon Chea moved to a room where he could participate in the proceedings remotely.

Judge Nonn reminded the parties to adhere to the guidelines issued on June 7, 2017 (see document E457/7). Judge Nonn read the guidelines in full in open court.

The guidelines are intended to help closing arguments go smoothly, with one guideline of particular note, regarding how parties are to address torture-tainted statements within the closing arguments.

Judge Nonn stated that under the Cambodia Code of Criminal Procedure, coerced statements have no evidentiary value, and under the Convention against Torture, statements made as a result of torture may only be used against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made. Moreover, this Chamber has held that torture-tainted evidence cannot be used for the truth of the content stated, but objective information contained within the confessions and annotations made by an interrogator or his superiors can be used.

He also recalled this Chamber’s findings related to the “real risk” that torture was used at S-21 and other security centers to obtain confessions, and that any party seeking to rely on this evidence should first show that the statement was not torture-tainted. Because the Accused in this case are charged with the crime of torture, the Chamber must apply a higher standard of proof to determine whether torture occurred. The Chamber’s previous determination that a real risk that evidence obtained by torture may differ from its final conclusion.

Lastly, Judge Nonn read from the guidelines that as the evidentiary hearings have concluded and there is no danger that witnesses and civil parties could be improperly influenced by torture-tainted evidence, where necessary the Chamber will allow the parties to reference such information during closing statements, so long as the party indicates that the Chamber has attached a presumption that the evidence to be discussed was obtained by torture.

Judge Nonn gave the floor to Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Pich Ang.

Mr. Ang introduced himself and stated that this was a good day to present closing statements and reparation proposals, after the close of evidentiary hearings of more than 200 days.

He explained that the Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers represent a consolidated group of civil parties of 3,867 persons, and discussed the composition of this group. Of these, 2195 live in Phnom Penh and surrounding provinces, and the remainder outside Phnom Penh. He noted that the total number of civil parties has not been constant as 181 parties have passed away since the start of the trial, and from these, 34 claims have continued through the filing of a successor claim. Mr. Ang noted that 64 civil parties testified during trial, ten of these were only 16 years old during time of the Khmer Rouge, and those who testified included “new” and “base” people, and sixteen where Khmer Rouge at the time.

Mr. Ang noted that, as stipulated in Internal Rule 23 quinquies, the civil parties filed their complaint against the Accused in support of the Co-Prosecutors and for moral and collective reparations.

Mr. Ang also stated that in closing arguments, the Civil Party Co-Lawyers will provide highlights of testimony before this Chamber, so as to assist the Chamber to see elements of crimes, and to highlight the harms suffered by civil parties.

He laid out the order of presentations. First, Mr. Ang will discuss the testimony relating to worksites and the persecution of the Cham people. Civil Party Co-Lawyer Chet Anly will present information related to the Tram Kok cooperative, the persecution of Buddhists, and the Kraing Ta Chan security center. Civil Party Co-Lawyer Hong Kim Suon will present on three security centers and internal purges. Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Marie Guiraud will present the treatment of the Vietnamese during the Democratic Kampuchea period, and on forced marriage. In the final session of today’s proceedings, Ms. Guiraud and Mr. Ang will cover reparations where funds have been secured for implementation.

Mr. Ang requested that the Chamber allow the Civil Party Co-Lawyers to present video clips and projections of documents during the presentations. Judge Nonn granted the request, but only for those materials previously put before the Chamber. Mr. Ang agreed.

Mr. Ang stated that the goal of the cooperatives was to provide food for internal consumption and for export. This was to be accomplished by rapidly increasing agricultural output to three tons of rice per hectare, creating a country-wide irrigation network, and building infrastructure such as airfields or dams. It is alleged that another objective for the cooperative was to further the policy of detecting, defending against, and smashing the enemy, and to eliminate the private sphere while destroying the social structure and replacing it with a collective regime that disallowed any individual interests.

Mr. Ang explained that first the Chamber will need to determine whether crimes against humanity occurred at each of the worksites and cooperatives. Second, the Chamber will need to determine whether the Accused can be held responsible for those crimes. The aim of today’s presentations will be to show how civil party evidence supports the elements of the individual crimes alleged, specifically, enslavement, torture, and political persecution.

Mr. Ang presented civil party evidence related to the Trapeang Thma Dam, 1st January Dam, and the Kampong Chhnang Airport. Civil parties described the conditions they endured, such as overwork, high quotas, inadequate nutrition, and lack of healthcare and hygiene. Their testimony is relevant to the crimes of enslavement, other inhumane acts, murder, extermination, and persecution on political grounds against “new” people. Their testimony covers, in great deal, their living and working conditions.

Mr. Ang stated that each worksite had different characteristics: for example, at Trapeang Thma Dam, each person described being attached to 100-person units and the control that was exerted over them. At the January 1st Dam, each of the civil parties described in detail the living conditions and lack of sanitation at a worksite that covered three sectors. At the Kampong Chhnang Airport, civil parties described grueling labor while being under “total instruction.”

With regards to the Trapeang Thma Dam, 101 civil parties were admitted in the context of the crimes committed there. Of these, four civil parties testified on the crimes of enslavement, murder, extermination, and persecution on political grounds against the “new” people at the worksite. Mr. Ang noted that the Chamber will have to decide if the conditions at the Trapeang Thma Dam meet the standard for enslavement, and this will include an analysis of the control of speech, family, the supervising of people, and imposition of punishment.

Mr. Ang’s presentation of civil party testimony on Trapeang Thma Dam included statements on the difficulty of daily life and meeting work quotas, the meetings held by superiors, and the ways in which “new” people were discriminated against by the “base” people.

Mr. Ang stated that for the 1st January Dam, 47 civil parties were admitted in the context of the crimes committed there. Five of these civil parties testified on crimes of enslavement, other inhumane acts, murder, extermination, and persecution on political grounds against “new” people. The civil parties who testified on the conditions at the 1st January Dam were all women. Their statements included also descriptions of the discrimination of the “base” people against the “new” people, the lack of autonomy, medicine, and hygiene, the particular suffering of women as they did not receive bras, underwear, or feminine hygiene products with which to manage their menstruation, the control of workers through reeducation meetings, the restriction on speaking to anyone, including one’s siblings, and the fear of showing grief for family members who were killed.

Eleven civil parties were admitted in the context of the crimes committed at Kampong Chhnang Airport, and three of those testified on crimes of enslavement and other inhumane acts. Their statements included descriptions on their restriction of moment and on communication with others, the strict regulations, and the ways that they were encouraged to report on one another.

Mr. Ang noted that throughout the trial, civil parties were allowed to ask questions of the Accused, and 51civil parties have asked questions of Accused through the president. The Accused have decided to exercise their right to be silent.

Next, Mr. Ang yielded the floor to Civil Party Co-Lawyer Chet Vanly.

Ms. Vanly stated that after the forced evacuation of cities and towns in April 1975, the Cambodian population was sent to work in rural areas, where people were organized in cooperatives where they had to work, regardless of age, status, or previous job. The workers had to follow Angkar policies, and as a result of such policies, millions of Cambodians became slaves and were forced labor. And the harm they suffered then continues today.

She stated that the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime did not just happen, rather, they were committed as part of a common plan which included Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

Ms. Vanly reviewed the civil party testimony on the Tram Kok cooperatives, which included 77 communes. The conditions of the people living there was that they were subject to arrest and detention. This includes the working and living conditions of people who were sent there, the identification of people as enemies, the reeducation, and the arrest or disappearance of people for various offenses. 52 civil parties were admitted related to the crimes committed at the Tram Kok cooperatives, of these, eleven testified.

Three civil parties provided evidence linking the Accused to the Tram Kok cooperatives. They also described loss of private property on transfer to the cooperatives, having to eat and sleep communally, and the killing of their family members. Five civil parties testified about the working and living conditions they experienced and harm they suffered as children or adolescents during that time. Two civil parties testified about their transfers to Tram Kok and working long hours without sufficient food or medical care. One civil party described his arrest and detention. One civil party testified on cruel treatment and abuse she endured.

Ms. Vanly stated that the abuse of power in Tram Kok led to the crimes of enslavement and all the other crimes that happened there. To find that there was enslavement, the Chamber will need to characterize the degree of control that the CPK exercised over its population, including psychological control, such as fostering climate of fear, control of over labor, and control of speech, life, and sexuality. She stated that a climate of fear was created through the use of reeducation meetings, the supervision of “new” people by “base” people, and imposition of punishments for deviations from the newly imposed structure.