Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan requested his release from pre-trial detention on Friday, claiming he would not flee his own day in court and would spend his time farming.
Khieu Samphan, who is 78 and was arrested in November 2007, is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as nominal head of the regime.
Defense attorney Sa Sovan told the Pre-Trial Chamber of the tribunal that Khieu Samphan would not flee if released. Nor would he pressure witnesses or victims, nor “stir up social instability,” he said.
“He wants to stay outside detention, to plant fruit trees and vegetables,” Sa Sovan said. “So I have repeatedly asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to release Khieu Samphan on bail and have asked for court measures [to keep him confined to certain areas].”
Tribunal prosecutor Yet Chakrya told the court the detention was a “proper measure,” if only to protect Khieu Samphan’s safety.
“If we release Khieu Samphan on bail, he will have revenge sought against him by victims,” he said.
Khieu Samphan visited Phnom Penh in 1991 for the first time after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge. An angry mob of people surrounded his residence, and he was injured on the head as a result.
Tuol Sleng prison survivor Bu Meng, now 69, said Khieu Samphan should be held in detention, along with four other leaders, including the chief of that prison, Duch, who saw the first days of a substantive trial on Monday.
“Khieu Samphan cannot deny what he did in the Khmer Rouge regime, because he was the leader. I believe that if the court allows Khieu Samphan outside detention, it is very difficult [because] of revenge sought by victims.”
At least 10 members of Khieu Samphan’s family were present for Friday’s hearing.
“I’ve come here to know what the court accuses him of, and what the court is doing to find justice for him,” Khieu Samphan’s wife, So Socheath, told reporters after the hearing. “I want the court to show the evidence [linking him to] the killings. I want justice for the killings under the Khmer Rouge regime. Who gave the order for the killings? [Khieu Samphan] did not commit a crime, and I want the court to release him on bail.”