Ex-Khmer Rouge leader seeks release to ‘safe house’ during Cambodia genocide trial

Ex-Khmer Rouge leader seeks release to ‘safe house’ during Cambodia genocide trial

[JURIST] A lawyer for former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leader Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder; JURIST news archive] argued Wednesday that judges in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] should release Kaing, also known as "Duch," away from his four co-defendants into a separate "safe house. The request came a day after Kaing apologized [JURIST report] for mass torture and murder. Defense lawyer Francois Roux [JURIST news archive] said the continued detention of Kaing, who was arrested in 1999, violated Cambodia's three-year limit [AP report] on "provisional detention" and asked the judges to consider the time already served in sentencing. Roux also questioned the appropriateness of housing Kaing with defendants he is likely to implicate with his testimony. Prosecutors opposed the proposal [AFP report], citing the possibility of retaliatory attacks on Kaing by families of his victims and noting that the ECCC has held him only since 2007.

Kaing lost a similar appeal [JURIST report] of his pre-trial detention in 2007. His trial is the first of eight [JURIST report] that the ECCC hopes to hear against former members of the Khmer Rouge, which has been accused of murdering 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] during its nearly four-year reign. The ECCC has long been plagued with accusations of corruption and inadequate funding, with greater problems in recent years. Earlier this month, the ECCC reported that it would be unable to pay its Cambodian employees [JURIST report] for that month, one year after the court requested $114 million dollars from the UN [JURIST report]. In February, Human Rights Watch warned that the ECCC trials were in danger of being tainted for their failure to follow fair trial standards [JURIST report], and in January a Cambodian court agreed to hear a corruption case [JURIST report] involving two ECCC judges.