[JURIST] Former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary [JURIST news archive], accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] communist regime of the 1970s, has returned to ECCC custody after his hospitalization [JURIST report] last week, an official for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) said Sunday. In addition to a urinary tract problem which led to the most recent hospitalization, his second in 10 days, the 82-year-old has a history of heart problems. He appealed his detention [JURIST report] on grounds of ill health in December 2007. The ECCC's pre-trial chamber has not yet heard the appeal. Concern over the age and health of former Khmer Rouge officials has led to protests [JURIST report] by those that fear the genocide suspects will die before they face justice. Former head of state Khieu Samphan suffered a stroke [JURIST report] in December 2007, and dictator Pol Pot [BBC profile] died in 1998 before facing any charges. AP has more.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [official website; JURIST news archive] 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. Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng 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.