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Aging Ta Mok May Not Directly Give Testimony in Front of Khmer Rouge Trial

Former Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok's lawyer alleges that his client might not be able to stand trial, as he cannot sit up, stand up, or answer questions at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal for former Khmer Rouge leaders, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, due to illness and old age.

Eighty-two-year old Ta Mok, was detained in 1999. He is believed to be the first Khmer Rouge high ranking official to be detained in military prison, to be tried at the tribunal, for crimes committed between 1975-1979.

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal is expected to begin in 2007. But Ta Mok's lawyer and military prison officials were reported as saying that he is being treated at a hospital in Phnom Penh, and is in poor health.

Ta Mok's lawyer, Benson Samay told VOA that it looks as though Ta Mok will not be able to stand trial unless he will be lying down. He says he would be able to have a power attorney over his client since he has known him for 7 years now.

Executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project and Law Lecturer Sok Sam Oeun says that what either Ta Mok or his lawyer or the prosecutor will say at the tribunal are not important, since the defendant has the right to remain silent.

When the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty, his lawyer cannot act on his behalf, or acts as a witness.

Brigadier general Ngin Sam An, military court's deputy director says that whether or not Ta Mok can go to stand trial, it all depends on his physician.

The Khmer Rouge regime is blamed for the death of nearly two million Cambodians who perished under its leader Pol Pot, from 1975-1979.