Photo by: ECCC Pool
Nuon Chea, former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2, appears at the tribunal for a hearing last month.
Thursday, 17 February 2011 18:23 Sebastian Strangio
Judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have rejected defence applications seeking the immediate release of three former regime leaders, saying the continued detention of the accused is necessary to “ensure their presence” at the court’s historic second trial later this year.
In applications filed to the hybrid court’s Trial Chamber last month, lawyers for former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan and social action minister Ieng Thirith argued that the court had not met the legal requirements to continue holding their clients in detention ahead of their trial.
Nuon Chea and Ieng Thirith’s defence teams claimed that judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber failed to issue a reasoned decision for rejecting the lawyers’ appeal against their client’s indictment, as they are required to do under the court’s Internal Rules.
Khieu Samphan’s lawyers, meanwhile, charged that the maximum allowable period of pre-trial detention provided for under court rules had expired.
“The Trial Chamber found that the delay in issuing reasoning for the continued detention resulted in a breach of the Accused Persons’ rights, but that the nature of the remedy in consequence of this breach may be assessed at the end of the trial,” the court said in a statement today.
“Furthermore, the Trial Chamber found that continued detention is necessary to ensure the presence of the Accused Persons at trial.”
The applications followed a January 13 decision by the PTC ordering the accused to remain in pretrial detention pending their trial.
The Trial Chamber conducted a hearing related to the applications on January 31.
In its decision, the chamber found that the delay in issuing reasoning for the continued detention indeed resulted in a breach of the three accused’s rights, but that the issue of how to compensate for this breach should be assessed “at the end of the trial”.
Judges also argued that Khieu Samphan’s appeal had been based on a “misreading” of the relevant rules, arguing that limits to provisional detention had not been exceeded in his case.
Furthermore, the decision stated that the continued detention of the trio was necessary to ensure their presence at their upcoming trial and to prevent them from “exerting pressure on witnesses or victims or destroying evidence”.
The three are set to face trial within the next six months, court officials have said, along with former Khmer Rouge head of state Ieng Sary.