[JURIST] Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [PBS backgrounder] asked the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] to release him from provisional detention Thursday and argued that his prior contact with the court was illegal because he did not have a lawyer with him and had not waived his right to counsel. Nuon Chea's current lawyer argued that the judges investigating the case did not follow proper criminal procedure, violating human rights and placing undue stress on his client. Nuon Chea said that he is not a flight risk, but ECCC prosecutors argued that he should remain in prison while he awaits trial. A ruling on the appeal is expected next week. The hearing began Monday, but was quickly adjourned [JURIST report] over a dispute about Nuon Chea's Dutch lawyer, Victor Koppe. Koppe was sworn in to the Cambodian Bar Association Wednesday and was allowed to participate in Nuon Chea's defense Thursday.
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. Nuon Chea was known as Brother Number Two in the Khmer Rouge, indicative of his high position in the communist movement led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998 having never been prosecuted for alleged war crimes. He was arrested and charged [JURIST report] in September 2007 and said that he was never in the position to order the deaths attributed to him, but that he will cooperate with the ECCC [JURIST report]. The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended 2005, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials, but to date, no top officials have faced trials. The first trials are expected to begin this year. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.