Home > Khmer Rouge, Local News > Lawyers for three ex-Khmer Rouge call for their release (Roundup)

Lawyers for three ex-Khmer Rouge call for their release (Roundup)

Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s international war
crimes tribunal said Monday that it would rule by mid-February on an
appeal for provisional release by three aging Khmer Rouge leaders.

Lawyers for the former leaders, who were arrested in 2007, argued that
rules governing the court dictated that their clients should be freed
immediately to await the trial expected later this year.

They argued an earlier ruling that the four former Khmer Rouge shoul remain in custody breached the court’s rules.

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan addressed the court briefly.
‘I have just one suggestion,’ he said. ‘Please abide by the law.’

Four senior Khmer Rouge leaders are in pre-trial detention. All are
elderly, with the youngest aged 78, and observers fear one or more
might die before their trial concludes.

Nuon Chea, the
movement’s former ideologue, was also in court Monday but left early
complaining of dizziness. Ieng Thirith, the social affairs minister,
appeared in court but departed after waiving her right to be present.

Former foreign minister Ieng Sary has not appealed his detention.

Earlier this month, the tribunal confirmed the indictments against the
four, clearing the way for their trial to begin on charges of genocide,
war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The tribunal’s pre-trial chamber had ruled on January 13 that the four should remain in custody.

The prosecution opposed the application for release, saying the judges
at Monday’s hearing lacked the authority to overrule the decision by
their colleagues at the pre-trial chamber.

International prosecutor Andrew Cayley also cited fears over witness intimidation.

‘Given (Nuon Chea’s) position within Democratic Kampuchea, he could put
pressure on witnesses, especially those under his authority (at the
time),’ Cayley said.

Khieu Samphan’s lawyer, Sar Sovan, said his client would not flee and would not intimidate witnesses.

‘What my client did was for the country,’ he said.

‘You say if he is released there will be outrage,’ said Sar Sovan,
addressing the prosecution. ‘At the least my client should be released
on bail. It is not good if you use this as revenge.’

The four
ex-officials are accused of responsibility for millions of deaths from
execution, disease, starvation and overwork during the Khmer Rouge’s
1975-79 Maoist regime. All four deny the charges.

A recent
demographic study by the tribunal estimated that there were between 1.7
million and 2.2 million deaths in that period, 800,000 of which were
violent.

The genocide charges relate to the persecution of Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia at the time.

The movement’s leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

Asia Pacific News

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Categories: Khmer Rouge, Local News
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