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Ieng Sary hearing postponed

Heng Chivoan

Ieng Sary, 82, is appealing his pretrial detention.

Former Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary’s appeal against pretrial detention was cut short June 30 when the UN-backed court set to try him for crimes against humanity and war crimes postponed the hearing by one day due to health concerns for the former KR foreign minister.

Sary’s lawyers had started to argue that their client should be remanded to house arrest or protected hospitalization when a court official announced a daylong postponement in order for Sary to recover from exhaustion.

The 82-year-old is the last of five accused – all former members of Pol Pot’s inner circle – to appeal his pre-trial detention at the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

American lawyer Michael Karnavas told the court on June 30 that Sary’s precarious health had not been adequately examined and that the unknowns of the court, which has been plagued by long delays and periods of glacial progress, could inflict undue suffering on his client.

“The court’s funding has not been resolved, and the trial could take another year or so. This is a violation of the rights of Ieng Sary,” he argued.

Karnavas also countered criticism of his plea.

“It is an insult to suggest this is a pretext, because this matter has been brought up month after month after month,” he added.

Observers are anticipating a second argument on Sary’s behalf July 1 – that he had clemency granted to him in 1996 by retired King Norodom Sihanouk at the behest of then co-Prime Ministers Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, in their efforts to broker Khmer Rouge defections.

The mixed bench of foreign and Cambodian judges has yet to decide whether to honor the royal pardon.

The first trial, that of former Khmer Rouge prison director Duch, is scheduled to start in September this year.



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