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Khieu Samphan Seeks Release Via Judges

Defense lawyers for jailed Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan said Friday they had decided to drop an appeal against his pre-trial detention through the Pre-Trial Chamber, asking instead investigating judges to drop an order to hold their client.

"We think that if we appeal, there is no hope," lawyer Sa Savan said. "Then we came back and asked the co-investigating judges to reconsider the provisional release of Khieu Samphan."

In a discussion in his cell with investigating judges Thursday, Khieu Samphan said he wanted to be released, Sa Savan said.

Investigating judges have the power to rescind their detention order, an order that the Pre-Trial Chamber has the power to overrule.

Co-investigating judge You Bunleng said Friday he and his international counterpart were waiting for five days to hear from prosecutors before deciding on the request.

Khieu Samphan, former nominal head of the regime, was arrested Nov. 19, 2007, and is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Delayed proceedings have meant Khieu Samphan has been held too long, especially considering his poor health, his lawyers said in a statement to the courts.

The demand for Khieu Samphan's release comes as the tribunal continues to fight allegations of corruption.

The court monitoring Open Society for Justice Initiative urged donors this week to condition future funding on a clean-up of corruption, following allegations by Cambodian staff they were forced to pay kickbacks.