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Khmer Rouge ex-officials appeal detention on crimes against humanity charges

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] said Thursday that former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as minister for social affairs, have filed appeals with the ECCC challenging their detention. The two were arrested [PDF press release; JURIST report] last month and are both charged with crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] regime. Sary is also charged with war crimes. The appeals filed with the court this week cite health concerns for both if they remain in detention until their trials begin in mid-2008. ECCC prosecutors, however, say that they are a high risk for fleeing and should remain detained.

The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended 2004, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials. The Khmer Rouge is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. To date, no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced trial. Sary and Thirith are two of five former Khmer Rouge leaders in custody of the court. Sary is suspected of perpetrating and facilitating murders as well as coordinating Khmer Rouge's policies of forcible transfer, forced labor and unlawful killings. Thirith allegedly directed and planned widespread purges and the killings of members within the Ministry of Social Affairs. Both have maintained their innocence. AFP has more.

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