Defense lawyers for jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary called for his release to house arrest on Thursday, claiming his health had deteriorated and detention at the tribunal facilities could endanger him.
Now 84 years old, Ieng Sary has the poorest health of five jailed members. He appeared before the court to hear a reading of the indictments against him by investigating judges and a request for the extension of his provisional detention.
Ieng Sary, who was arrested in November 2007, faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as foreign minister of the regime. His appearance in front of the court followed three days of trial for Duch, the former chief of Tuol Sleng prison.
As he sat before Pre-Trial Chamber judges for around 30 minutes on Thursday, Ieng Sary looked pale and exhausted.
“I am very old, so I cannot speak a lot.” Ieng Sary told judges Thursday. “I have asked my lawyers to speak on my behalf, all words.”
Defense attorney Ang Udom requested the judges to allow him to leave the courtroom to rest. “He cannot sit a long time to wait for the hearing,” Ang Udom said.
The defense also said Ieng Sary should not be further detained at the tribunal’s facilities, and they requested he be allowed to await his trial from home.
“The detention of Ieng Sary is not necessary,” Ang Udom said. “So the Pre-Trial Chamber should decide to allow Ieng Sary to be under house arrest.”
Under house arrest, he said, Ieng Sary will “have a chance to stand in front of the court [for trial].”
Tribunal prosecutor Tan Senarong told the court the decision to extend Ieng Sary’s detention by investigating judges was proper according to the evidence against him and was allowed by the internal rules.
Kept in detention, Ieng Sary would not be able to pressure witnesses or destroy evidence in his case and would guarantee his presence for the needs of the court, he said.
“If the Pre-Trial Chamber decides to release Ieng Sary on bail, it will worry the witnesses and victims,” he said. “To avoid the risks, we need to continue Ieng Sary’s provisional detention.”
The Pre-Trial Chamber is expected to decide on extended detention at a later date, the chambers head judge, Prak Kimsan, said.
On Friday, the Pre-Trial Chamber will hold a hearing for provisional detention of Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge’s former head of state.