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UN-Backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal Warns Lawyers Against Boycott


In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, left, former Khmer Rouge head of state, sits in the court room during a hearing at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Oct. 17, 2014.

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, left, former Khmer Rouge head of state, sits in the court room during a hearing at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Oct. 17, 2014.

The United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia has warned defense lawyers it will replace them if they continue to boycott court proceedings.

In an interview with VOA's Khmer service Tuesday, defense lawyer Son Arun said prosecutors told the defense team they could be removed from the case if they continue with their current course of action.

Lawyers walked out the hearings last week and said they will not return until the court hears their complaints, including one accusing the judges of bias.

The tribunal is starting the second and final phase of proceedings against two former top Khmer Rouge officials — Nuon Chea, the regime's chief ideologue and Khieu Samphan, the former head of state.

The final phase of trial is expected to be broader in scope and to address atrocities across the country, including alleged genocide of Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese, forced marriages and rapes.

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were convicted earlier this year and face life sentences for atrocious crimes committed during Phnom Penh exodus in 1975.

They are the only senior Khmer Rouge leaders who have been brought to justice more than 35 years after the regime collapsed.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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