Khmernews

Brother Number 2 Fights for Bail

Posted by khmernews on February 25, 2008

Rameth

Phnom Penh: The top senior surviving Khmer Rouge leader on February 7 tried very hard to ask the Khmer Rouge tribunal for his release on bail while the co-prosecutors of the tribunal warned that the release may lead to the exertion of pressure on witnesses or destruction of evidence.
At almost 9 a.m., former President of the Khmer Rouge National Assembly Nuon Chea, commonly known as Brother Number 2 of the Khmer Rouge regime, was brought in a white Toyota Landcruiser to the Pre-Trial Chamber’s hearing held for Cambodian and international judges to decide whether or not to let Nuon Chea out of jail.

Standing in the wooden curved dock, Nuon Chea, 81, appeared to be a healthy old man. He did not show any fear before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the hybrid court established under the cooperation between Cambodia and the UN to seek justice for victims of the genocidal regime in which at least 2 million Cambodians were killed or died of disease and forced labour.

In an effort to live outside of detention, “I wish to say that I am willing to testify before this court, a court with freedom,” said Nuon Chea, adding that he did not want the court to detain and force him to answer. He promised that if he was released on bail, he would not free the proceedings. “I would never wish to leave my beloved country,” he said, claiming that he had no intention to destroy evidence or exert any pressure on witnesses. Based on these reasons, he requested the Khmer Rouge tribunal to allow him to live outside jail.

Meanwhile, his defence lawyer Son Arun asserted that the Nuon Chea’s provisional detention was inappropriate and that his client was reasonable to be released.

However, the Co-Prosecutors in the Pre-Trial Chamber claimed differently. They pointed out that Nuon Chea was the second highest leader of the Khmer Rouge regime and that he might have been involved with the severe crimes committed during the regime. “Therefore, Nuon Chea’s detention is necessary,” they insisted.

While Lawyer Son Arun said that Nuon Chea had no knowledge of the mass killings of Cambodians in his role as the president of Khmer Rouge National Assembly, Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang argued that Nuon Chea had held the important position in the Khmer Rouge regime and was believed to be connected with the establishment and practice of the crimes policy including killings, torture, and evacuation of people from the cities. For this reason, Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang claimed that if Nuon Chea was released on bail, he could intimidate witnesses and destroy evidence. Moreover, the detention is also necessary for Nuon Chea’s safe.

The day-long session did not reach the decision whether Brother Number 2 Nuon Chea should be let out of jail or not. The hearing was adjourned until February 8.

Nuon Chea was arrested September 19, [2007] on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. At present, five former Khmer Rouge leaders are being detained by the Khmer Rouge tribunal pending trial. All the accused have appealed against their detention.

While the process of the Khmer Rouge trial is moving forward, the tribunal announced February 7 that so far it has received more than 500 complaints from the victims of the genocidal regime.

Meanwhile, The Cambodia Daily reported that the tribunal will need up to $170 million and work until March, 2011 while it was initially planned to cost $56.3 million for 3 years only.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 16, #4510, Friday, February 08, 2008.

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