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Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal holds first public hearing

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday held its first public hearing, considering the appeal of Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch profile], better known as "Duch," against his eight-year pre-trial detention. Duch argued that the tribunal risked violating international law if it continued to detain him. Though a decision is not expected for several days, the ECCC judges indicated that they did not have jurisdiction to determine the legality of Duch's detention. Duch was arrested in 1999 on genocide charges and was subsequently charged by a military court with crimes against humanity in 2002 and war crimes [JURIST report] in March. Those charges were primarily brought to keep Duch in custody while the ECCC started operations. Duch, who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison [backgrounder] in Phnom Penh, was charged [JURIST report] with crimes against humanity by the ECCC in July.

Duch is one of five top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] currently in ECCC custody. ECCC authorities arrested [JURIST report] former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan Monday following his release from a hospital, and later charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last week, the ECCC announced formal charges [JURIST report] against former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as minister of social affairs. Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea is awaiting trial [JURIST report] for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their trials are expected to begin next year. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.

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