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Detained Brother No. 2 Does Not Wish Bail, Wife Says

The senior-most surviving member of the Khmer Rouge does not wish to leave jail ahead of an atrocity crimes trial, Nuon Chea's wife said Tuesday.

Nuon Chea does not want to leave detention because he wants to avoid "harassment," said Ly Kimseng, who visited her husband in a tribunal jail Monday.

"He says he wants to stay here. It is easy for him," she said. "He says being here is quiet, and no one bothers him. He can read books to his heart's content."

Nuon Chea, who was arrested Sept. 19 and charges with war crimes and crimes against humanity, has not yet chosen a foreign lawyer. No date has been set for a trial.

"I saw that he is in good health, and his disposition is happy, and he is not sad," Ly Kimseng told VOA Khmer. "He was happy as usual."

Nuon Chea's lawyer, Son Arun, said Tuesday Nuon Chea's health was not a concern, despite problems with his blood pressure that led to a halt in questioning by tribunal judges in September. Nuon Chea had considered two foreign lawyers and had a first choice in mind, Son Arun said, without elaborating.

"He wants quality, so that [the new lawyer] can work harmoniously and not be in conflict with the Cambodian lawyer. This is all that he wants," Son Arun said.

Khek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho, said Nuon Chea's decision to stay in detention was fair, due to security concerns, and she was glad to hear of his apparent good health.

"No one can persecute him at the detention center," she said. "If he were on bail, we cannot guarantee [his safety] if some people want revenge, because they are very hurt, and their relatives died from the violent acts of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge. We say it is possible. Who will protect him? There is no one."