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Cambodia court denies bail request of former Khmer Rouge official Ieng Thirith

[JURIST] Judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [court website] Wednesday denied the bail request [decision text, PDF] of former Khmer Rouge minister for social affairs Ieng Thirith [JURIST news archive], finding that she could be criminally culpable for her actions and that she is still dangerous to society. The ECCC ordered Ieng Thirith into provisional detention [order, PDF] in November 2007 on charges of crimes against humanity on the basis that the detention was necessary to ensure a timely and fair trial. Her lawyers appealed [text, PDF], arguing that the court's Internal Rules [Rule 63(3) text, PDF] did not warrant detention. The appellate division upheld the order, saying:

There are well-founded reasons to believe that the Charged Person was, in her capacity as Minister of Social Affairs, in a position to prevent the enslavement and other inhumane acts to which the civilian population was allegedly subjected and that she failed to do so. The Charged Person might therefore be responsible for these alleged crimes of enslavement and other inhumane acts which, in the context of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population, can be characterized as crimes against humanity.
The appellate division also held that Ieng Thirith's past conduct indicated a risk that she could pressure witnesses and victims, destroy evidence, and flee the country. The decision also found that her release would disturb public order, making her continued detention necessary. If convicted of the charges against her, Ieng Thirith faces a sentence of five years to life in prison. AFP has more.

The ECCC was established by law [text as amended 2004, PDF] in 2001 to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials. The Khmer Rouge is generally believed to be responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] between 1975 and 1979. No top Khmer Rouge officials have yet faced trial. In August 2007, the ECCC brought its first charges against Kaing Khek Iev [TrialWatch profile; JURIST report], who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [GenocideWatch report] is awaiting trial [JURIST report] for charges [statement, PDF] of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Charges have also been brought against former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, who was arrested [JURIST report] in November 2007, and against former Foreign Minister and Ieng Thirith's husband, Ieng Sary [JURIST news archive].

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