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Ta Mok near death: Lawyer

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Ta Mok lawyer Benson Samay says his client's dying

Former Khmer Rouge military chief Ta Mok has dangerously high blood pressure and

could die at any time according to his lawyer Benson Samay.

"I don't think he'll live a long time," Samay told the Post on Jan 18,

one day after the 75 year old Ta Mok was taken to a clinic outside the military prison

where he's confined to receive treatment for high blood pressure. "I think he'll

die before any trial."

Samay contradicted doctors' reports that Ta Mok was relatively healthy.

"His blood pressure is very high and very dangerous...he should have died already,"

he said. "He must be looked at all the time and should be taken to hospital."

Samay's dire assessment of Ta Mok's health echo comments he made in a press briefing

on Jan 11 in which he said that the former KR leader was in a severe state of physical

- and mental - decline.

"I never ask [Ta Mok] serious questions," Samay said on Jan 11. "He

just says something crazy [in response]."

In the same press briefing Samay reiterated that his eleven member legal team - consisting

of "Cambodian, American, Australian and Russian" lawyers - would base Ta

Mok's defense on alleged influence of foreign powers in creating the genocide.

Claiming to have accumulated both a ton of potentially exonerating evidence for his

client as well as a list of "at least 10,000" defence witnesses, Samay

said he expected the KR tribunal would be of between three to four years duration.

Samay also issued an open invitation to serve as defense counsel of other former

KR leaders including Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary if they should be indicted.

"I might represent all the KR [leaders]," he said. "I'm willing to

defend them [because] I want the trial to be fair [and] to know the truth."

Ta Mok was arrested March 6 1999 and is confined in Phnom Penh's Military Prison

along with Duch, the former S-21 torture center chief who was arrested on May 10,

1999. All other former KR leaders remain at liberty.

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