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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khieu Samphan's pretrial detention extended one year

Khieu Samphan's pretrial detention extended one year

The Khmer Rouge head of state is the last of five former regime leaders

whose release was rejected by Cambodia's war crimes tribunal


Co-lawyers for Khieu Samphan will be in town December 4 for a public hearing on the issue of translation. Lawyer Jacques Verges said in April he could not properly defend his client until more than 10,000 pages of documents were translated into French.

CAMBODIA'S war crimes tribunal extended Khieu Samphan's pretrial detention for an additional year Tuesday as delays continue to hamper the UN-backed court.

The 77-year-old former head of state's initial yearlong detention ends today, days after co-investigating judges ruled that two other former regime leaders, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, would also remain jailed for another year.

"The co-investigating judges of the ECCC have decided to prolong the detention of Khieu Samphan for one more year," said co-investigating Judge You Bun Leng, who made the ruling with his international counter-part, Judge Marcel Lemonde.

"We respect the internal rules of the ECCC in regards to the conditions of detention," he told the Post Tuesday.

"But if we don't extend his detention, we would have to release him. And if we released him, it may provoke many problems in regards to security, public order and witnesses. We have rejected his appeal for release one time already, so he will still be in detention."

According to the internal rules, judges may renew pre-trial detention only twice after a suspect's initial detention, and must justify their decision with evidence directly linking the charged persons to the crimes that they allegedly committed.

Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sa Sovan, a co-lawyer for Khieu Samphan, told the Post Tuesday that they would protest the extension.

If we released him, it may provoke many problems in regards to security.

"We will appeal against the co-investigating judges'  decision. One year ago, the tribunal did not find any arguments for Khieu Samphan's detention, and he is provisionally in jail. Now that the provisional detention has expired, I request that the tribunal release Khieu Samphan," he said.
Sa Sovan and French lawyer Jacques Verges have also appealed their client's detention on the basis that the failure of the court to fully translate their client's case into French has resulted in a serious violation of his rights.

A public hearing on the translation issue will be held on December 4.

The court's first public trial, that of former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, is expected to begin next year after delays, both procedural and budgetary, pushed back the process by several months.

The tribunal opened in 2006 with a three-year schedule that has since been extended to 2010.



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