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Solitary Ieng Sary Pushes for House Arrest

Former Khmer Rouge foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary complained to the tribunal of solitude in detention and a heart problem that takes him by surprise, while his co-lawyers pushed the courts to put him under house arrest.

"My heart reacts irregularly," Ieng Sary told the court at the end of three days of hearings over his pre-trial detention. "I don't know how, in detention, I make my efforts and nobody stays with [me]. Sometimes I ring, one time, they do not hear. And sometimes, two times, and then I make my own effort [to alleviate] suffering."

Michael Karnavas, co-defense, told the court that if Ieng Sary is to be tried, he must have good health so that he can be present in the court room two years from now. He proposed house arrest, because the defendant had been transferred to the hospital many times.

Co-prosecutors, however, rejected the proposition from the defense, saying the release of Ieng Sary from tribunal detention could provoke security problems for the defendant as victims could seek retribution and violence against him.

Ieng Sary out of detention would be a threat to witnesses, as well, prosecutors argued, and a release on house arrest was not necessary, because the tribunal ensured high-quality health conditions for detainees, healthier than most healthcare systems in Cambodia.

The tribunal retains five doctors and four numbers to care for the five jailed Khmer Rouge leaders and has a contract with Calmette hospital for advanced care.

Lawyers representing civil parties participating in the hearing supported the prosecutors. There have been no serious threats to Ieng Sary's health clearly reported, so he should remain in detention ahead of his trial, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, civil party lawyers said.