“I’m still here because of the bigger story,” says Khmer Rouge tribunal defence lawyer

07 April 2015 by Ate Hoekstra, Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

At the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), case 002/02 against former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan is in full swing [IJT-168]. Defence lawyer Victor Koppe, who represents Nuon Chea, spoke to IJT, noting, among other things, that bias against the accused has been unmatched. 

Victor Koppe, defence attorney for Nuon Chea (front row, right) at the ECCC in January 2015 (Photo: Flickr/ECCC/Peter Ford)
Image caption: 
Victor Koppe, defence attorney for Nuon Chea (front row, right) at the ECCC in January 2015 (Photo: Flickr/ECCC/Peter Ford)

Since the ECCC began in 2006, complaints about political interference have swirled. How about in this second case against your client?

Victor Koppe (VK): The main problem is the standard general view that [Khmer Rouge leader] Pol Pot and his companions are the evil geniuses and that the Vietnamese, Heng Samrin [Cambodia’s National Assembly president] and Prime Minister Hun Sen are the saviours. It seems impossible to change that narrative.

Despite the political opposition, Judge Mark Harmon decided to charge additional Khmer Rouge officials in cases 003 and 004 [IJT-177, IJT-179]. What do you make of that?

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