Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary appeared for a third day
in pre-trial hearings, where the court heard arguments surrounding a royal pardon for a 1979 genocide verdict and death sentence.
Defense lawyers are pushing for Ieng Sary's release on the
grounds that he has already been tried for genocide, by a 1979 court set up in the wake of the ouster of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces. As part of a deal with the government in 1996, then-king
Norodom Sihanouk pardoned the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister in return
for his defection to the government.
Ieng Sary, who was too weak to finish a hearing on Monday,
sat quietly in the court room listening to the arguments.
"The amnesty and the pardon conform with the Cambodian
constitution," said Ang Udom, Ieng Sary's Cambodian lawyer. "All the
crimes that have been charged against him are under the dimension of this royal
"The pre-trial chamber must order the release of Ieng
Sary, urgently and without condition," Ang Udom told the court.
The pardon, granted Sept. 14, 1996, banned further
accusations of Ieng Sary under an anti-Khmer Rouge law.
Michael Karnavas, co-defense for Ieng Sary, said
Wednesday the pardon was approved by the National Assembly and co-prime
ministers Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen.
The co-prime ministers understood the necessity for amnesty
for Ieng Sary, which led to the mass defection of Khmer Rouge troops to the
government, Karnavas said.
Ieng Sary was an agent of peace, Karnavas said.
However, prosecutors and civil parties rejected the
legitimacy of the pardon.
Co-prosecutor William Smith said Cambodia was a signature country to
international genocide mandates.
According to international law, and to obligations
of each country member, Cambodia has an obligation
to charge against such kind of violation, Smith said.
The royal pardon was only for Ieng Sary's execution, and not
to prevent the prosecution of other crimes, Smith said.
Civil parties, which participated in the hearing, explained
that the pardon was involved with government policy at the time, and the royal pardon
was motivated by peace and reconciliation for the country.