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Khmer Rouge Leaders Kept Isolated From Each Other

The first five Khmer Rouge leaders detained by the tribunal courts have little or no contact with each other and are allowed daily exercise in shifts, the wife of the regime's chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, said Thursday.

Ly Kimseng, whose husband has been detained since September 19, said she has been allowed to visit three times, but that the former cadre of the regime are not allowed to communicate with each other.

"There are separate rooms," she said. "While one [defendant] is allowed to be out, the others are not. For example, when I come, they only open my husband's room, but not the other rooms."

Visitors are not allowed contact with other detainees, she said. "I think they're afraid we will talk to each other about something."

Five of the Khmer Rouge's former senior leaders are now in the tribunal jail, awaiting trial: Nuon Chea, former nominal head Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary, social affairs minister Ieng Thirith and Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Khek Iev, alias Duch.

The restrictions were in place as part of regulations of the special courts, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said. "They are detained suspects, so they cannot talk to each other, except to their attorneys and relatives, and this is also part of an international law."

Nuon Chea's lawyer, Son Arun, said the prohibition was in accordance to law, and Ieng Sary's attorney, Ang Udom, said certain prohibitions were reasonable.

The detainees should be allowed some interaction by tribunal officials, however, Ang Udom said. "They should not prohibit that much. They should not be that emotionless, because other detainees can also see and talk to each other, even though it is not the same case."

The extraordinary nature of the cases made restrictions necessary, said Hisham Mousar, a legal expert for the rights group Adhoc. "They are not detained in an ordinary court, and the hearing is not ordinary either. It is special, and so far everything is done based on international standards."