The ECCC Trial Chamber resumed hearings in Case 002/02 this month with the intention of compelling the Defense counsel for both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to participate in proceedings in the trial following a month of postponement since the 17 October opening hearing. Prior to the Court recess during Cambodia’s Water Festival, the Chamber issued a new Scheduling Order, which reduced the remaining number of hearing days before the end of 2014 from fifteen to ten. In keeping with this updated schedule, and in response to the justifications for the continued absence of the Nuon Chea Defense team from proceedings, the Special Panel assembled by the ECCC’s Judicial Administration Committee also issued a decision on Defense Motions for disqualification of judges. Nuon Chea and his Counsel therefore participated in the 17 November and 24 November hearings, but Khieu Samphan’s Defense Counsel continued to boycott, prompting the Trial Chamber to reassess its plan for the remainder of hearings this year.
Following exchanges with Khieu Samphan in the courtroom on 17 November, and in a 21 November Decision, the Chamber announced that it would name Khieu Samphan’s current attorney as “court-appointed counsel,” in an attempt to prevent Counsel from continuing to follow the instructions of their client regarding the boycott. In doing so, the Court opined that the wider interests of justice and expeditious proceedings outweigh the specific rights of an Accused to Counsel of her or his choice. In response, the lawyers for Khieu Samphan published a press release just before the start of the 24 November hearing, in which they refused to compromise on their demand that hearings in Case 002/02 resume only after the Case 002/01 appellate filing deadline of 29 December 2014. Facing increasingly limited options and with few scheduled trial dates remaining in the calendar year, the Trial Chamber relented and announced an adjournment of trial hearings until 8 January 2015.