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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KRT to let detainees converse

KRT to let detainees converse

Tribunal judges have ended the segregation of defendants at the UN-backed court

JUDGES at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have ended the segregation of the five defendants currently in pretrial detention, giving them permission to talk with one other.

The decision, which was made public Wednesday, was a response to an appeal made by Nuon Chea's defence lawyers, who argued that the provisions of their client's detention were too restrictive.

"There can be no reason relating to investigation purposes justifying that contacts between the five charged persons currently detained at the [court] detention facility be restricted," the court decision, dated September 26, stated.

The decision overrides an earlier order made by the co-investigating judges, who feared that if the defendants were allowed to socialise, they could collude to tamper with evidence or put pressure on witnesses.

Son Arun, co-lawyer for Nuon Chea, called the decision a "victory".

"It is a good result," he told the Post Wednesday.

The decision said international human rights norms were one of the reasons behind amending the rule, citing a European Commission of Human Rights decision that found it to be "a serious measure to exclude a prisoner from all or almost all contact with normal prison society for a long period".

It also noted that "detainees are normally not kept separately in Cambodian prisons", and that the co-investigating judges "have no power to set out the conditions of detention at the ECCC detention facility, which shall remain under the authority of the Chief of Detention".

Nuon Chea, who is being held for war crimes and crimes against humanity, had his pretrial detention extended a year earlier this month.

Court spokesman Reach Sambath declined comment Wednesday.

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