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Ex-Khmer Rouge official appeals detention for Cambodia genocide

[JURIST] Ieng Sary [TrialWatch profile; JURIST news archive], former Foreign Minister during the Khmer Rouge regime [BBC backgrounder], appeared before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [court website] for the second day Tuesday to appeal his detention on genocide charges. Lawyers for Sary, whose appearance at the ECCC had been set last weekend [scheduling order, PDF; hearing invitation, PDF], have asked for his release due to ill-health [JURIST report], and have also argued that a genocide trial in the ECCC would constitute double jeopardy, since he was pardoned [NYT report] by King Norodom Sihanouk on similar charges in 1996. 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 Convention [text] based on their role in the Khmer Rouge regime. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

Ieng Sary's 1996 pardon has been challenged as a violation of international law in a response [PDF text] to a previous hearing. The response characterized the pardon as non-binding with respect to 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, including former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan [JURIST news archive].

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