Khmernews

Ieng Sary’s appeal hearing adjourned

Posted by khmernews on July 1, 2008

By Craig Guthrie

Former Khmer Rouge (KR) Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, frequently the sole diplomatic voice of the isolationist KR regime, yesterday had his appeal for release from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) adjourned amid fears it was endangering his allegedly precarious state of health.

Ieng Sary, 82, walked into the court with the aid of a metallic walking stick, but unlike his fellow KRT detainees listened intently to the court debate. Dressed in a simple pale blue shirt and, despite the exalted status “Brother No.3” commanded in the KR era, he wore just a single pen in his top pocket-rank was often denoted by the number of pens worn by top KR cadre.

Although observers believed the testimony would revolve around the court’s jurisdiction over Ieng Sary-relating to a royal pardon he was granted in 1996-early exchanges were dominated by defense claims that Ieng Sary was mentally unfit for the court to proceed.

Michael Karnavas, his US co-defence lawyer, said that the failure of the court to give his client an accurate psychiatric examination cast doubt on its adherence to international standards, making an unflattering comparison between the present KRT and a Vietnamese government-backed trial of KR leaders held in 1979.

“We cannot go forward. The co-investigating judges have refused an examination, they have refused anything … We are at their mercy … To go forward would violate my ethical obligation to my client, “said Karnavas.

He said the 1979 trial, in its denial of human rights, was far from living up to international standards. “History, is maybe repeating itself Proceed with caution as the would is watching,” said the lawyer, adding that the defense is now seeking that their client be put under custody in hospital rather than kept under house arrest.

In response, Cambodian co-prosecution lawyer Yet Chakriya. Said that the defense should have submitted this argument before-hand, suggesting it may be a pretext to delay the trial.

“Let us look at the reality of his health condition. There are regular examinations [done by the court] which have produced no proof [he is mentally incapable]. These allegations are groundless,” he said.

Australian co-prosecution lawyer William Smith said that the defense’s argument had been brought at the “last minute,” and that the issue of Ieng Sary’s mental fitness was separate from his appeal against provisional detention.

After the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber returned from deliberating on the issue, the defense asked that the courts be adjourned as their client had not had lunch, needed rest, felt dizzy and was coughing.

At this point Ieng Sary stood up and spoke. “I strongly agree [with the defense motion for an adjournment]. I am struggling to attend this session but I want to be present at every court proceeding on my case. I can continue, but fear if I do I will have no energy for tomorrow.”

A court doctor then took the stand stating that a lunchtime examination of Ieng Sary revealed that his appearance at the court had caused his blood pressure to rise and exacerbated lung complications, ” which can be a very fatal condition.” Pre-trial judges then confirmed that the case would adjourn before resuming this morning.

-Extracted from The Mekong Times Daily, vol. 1, #101, Tuesday, July 01, 2008.

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