Khmer suspects seek release

02 February 2011 by Jared Ferrie

Three former Khmer Rouge leaders asked a UN-backed international tribunal on Monday to free them as they await the long anticipated, but yet unscheduled, trial. 

Judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will decide within weeks whether to release the alleged war criminals.

The defendants - chief ideologue Nuon Chea, former head of state Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Thirith, who served as minister for social affairs - are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, and genocide against the minority Cham and Vietnamese populations. They have rejected the charges.

The defence argued that the court should release their clients immediately, as they were not brought to trial within four months of being indicted in September. The lawyers told Trial Chamber judges that an earlier Pre-trial Chamber decision to prolong detention violated court rules.

But international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said Trial Chamber judges had “no authority” to overturn the previous decision. He said the defence needed to lodge a formal appeal for the release.

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