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Court opts to extend Khieu Samphan's pretrial detention

Court opts to extend Khieu Samphan's pretrial detention

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The 77-year-old former head of state is latest of the Khmer Rouge court's five defendants to be denied release from pretrial detention

Photo by: AFP

Khieu Samphan appeals his detention at the ECCC earlier this year.

AILING former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan is the latest of the former regime's defendants to be denied release from provisional detention at the UN-backed tribunal.

Under an order released Friday, co-investigative judges refused his release for a second time on October 28.

"There exist plausible reasons to believe that Khieu Samphan, as head of state ... facilitated and encouraged the crimes for which [he has been charged]," Judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng wrote in their decision.

Of the five defendants under provisional arrest at the Extraordinary Chambers, the 77-year-old is the latest to be refused release on any basis, including hospitalisation as alternative confinement.

Earlier last month, 83-year-old former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary was told that he was fit enough to remain under arrest at the court's detention facilities, and that the issue of amnesty that lawyers had fought for was not enough to free him, given the fact that he had not spent a day in jail for charges under a 1979 Vietnamese-backed show trial.

Lawyers for former chief ideologist Nuon Chea argued in October also that there was no evidence to justify their client's continued detention, which was extended in September by a year. Their request, which was denied, is being appealed again.

Pretrial problems

Pretrial detention has been a contentious issue for the court, with legal experts and human rights groups concerned it sets a bad precedent for future jurisdictions.

Under the internal rules of the court, the provisional detention laws must set out the legal grounds and factual basis for a defendant's detention.

They must also prove that detention is necessary to stop the accused from interfering with witnesses or evidence or escaping persecution.

Co-counsel Francois Roux claimed after Duch's hearing in November last year that his pretrial detention contradicted Cambodian law as well as international standards for civil and political rights.

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