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Cambodia genocide court to decide on detention of ex-Khmer Rouge official

[JURIST] Former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] is set to appeal his provisional detention in a June 30 open hearing to be broadcast on radio and TV stations, according to documents [scheduling order, PDF; hearing invitation, PDF] released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive]. Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who served as minister for social affairs, were arrested [PDF press release; JURIST report] in November 2007 and charged [JURIST report] with crimes against humanity and war crimes for breaches of the Geneva Conventions [text] based on their role in the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] communist regime of the 1970s. Sary and his wife have cited health concerns in their appeals against detention orders. Sary has been hospitalized twice [JURIST report] so far this year.

Sary was pardoned in 1996 [NYT report] by King Norodom Sihanouk, but in a response [PDF text] to the hearing by the civil party in the case, the pardon was said to violate international law, and is non-binding on the ECCC, which was established by in 2001 to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials. According to published proceedings [PDF text], Sary is punishable under articles 5, 6, 29, and 39 of the Law on the Establishment of the ECCC [text]. 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 the custody of the court.

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