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ECCC delays hearing for ex-Khmer Rouge chief after lawyer refuses to participate

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday adjourned a hearing to consider an appeal by former Cambodian head of state Khieu Samphan [JURIST news archive] against his detention after Samphan's French lawyer Jacques Verges [BBC profile] refused to participate, saying that documents necessary for Samphan's defense had not been translated into French. In the decision [PDF text] issued Wednesday to adjourn the proceedings, the court said that French copies of all relevant documents were available and issued a warning to Verges for not indicating sooner that language difficulties existed. Also Wednesday, Verges told reporters that Samphan's detention was "illegal," as it was based on untranslated documents. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

Khieu Samphan was the fifth senior Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] leader to be detained by the ECCC when he was arrested last year. 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. 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. Verges has previously said that his client would not speak with court officials [JURIST report] until court documents and pages of evidence against his client were translated into French.

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