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Cambodia genocide court finds ex-Khmer Rouge officials fit for trial

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] has denied requests by former Khmer Rouge officials Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary [decisions, PDF] to receive court-appointed medical experts who would determine whether the men are fit to stand trial to face war crimes and crimes against humanity charges. Chea, known as Brother Number Two in the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder], had complained that his brain was "not normal" and that his "thinking [was] generally unclear," and sought a mental health expert to determine his mental competency to stand trial. The court denied the request Tuesday, finding that Chea has "made collected, relevant, well-structured and comprehensive statements during hearings," and that his complaints about mental health fatigue did not "in themselves justify the appointment of an additional expert." The court denied Sary's request on similar grounds, finding that there was no evidence his physical ailments or current medications could render him incapable of standing trial. AFP has more.

To date, no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced trial for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. Sary, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister, who has a history of heart trouble, was hospitalized twice earlier this year, and appealed his detention to the ECCC [JURIST reports] in December on grounds of ill health. The ECCC denied [PDF decision; Phnom Penh report] requests for his release pending trial last week, after denying similar requests [JURIST report] by Chea earlier this year. The Australia government Thursday announced [AFP report] that it would give the ECCC an additional $5.3M to assist it through two more years of operations, after the Court announced [UN News release] earlier this year it was facing budget shortfalls of more than $43M. The United States [Reuters report], Japan [Radio Australia report], Germany, and France [AFP reports] have also recently pledged additional money.

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