A pre-trial hearing to address Ieng Sary's appeal against provisional detention ended early today because the octogenarian didn't feel well.
After a lunch break at the ECCC, Sary's lawyers said their client felt dizzy and had not eaten much. The former DK foreign minister said he had spent the morning session trying to stifle coughs and told the judges if he used too much energy in one day, he might not be able to return to court the next.
At the same time, he insisted on being present for all proceedings.
Prosecutors and judges said they wanted testimony from a doctor about Sary's current condition.
"It's too easy to say ‘I don't feel like coming to the trial this afternoon,'" said co-prosecutor William Smith.
The ECCC detention facility's doctor was summoned to the courtroom and a long and convoluted discussion of Sary's health commenced. During the question and answer session, the doctor discussed everything from Sary's eating habits to his daily urine output. Audience members chuckled sporadically, particularly when court interpreters were unable to translate much of the medical terminology.
Despite numerous repetitions, it's still a bit unclear to me - and probably to many observing the court - what exactly was wrong with Sary. But the doctor reported tests showed liquid in the defendant's lung and said that prolonged sitting may cause him to become stressed and lead to hypertension.
Ultimately, the judges decided to proceed cautiously and granted the defense's request for adjournment around 2pm. Proceedings will resume tomorrow at 9am.
It will be interesting to see what sort of precedent today's events will set for the court. Given their ages, no doubt many of the defendants will have recurring health complaints. The tribunal will have to sort out a method of determining whether these are legitimate on a day-to-day basis.
* Picture above: Sary had to be helped to his seat by court personnel.