The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Friday publicly released the court order placing Nuon Chea, the most senior Khmer Rouge leader still living, in provisional detention ahead of his trial.
The Sept 19 order, signed by ECCC Co-Investigating Judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde, also details the court’s charges against Nuon Chea, 82, and provides a summary of his initial interview at the court.
According to the order, the co-investigating judges believed Nuon Chea must be detained because he is a flight risk and could possibly influence witnesses, particularly “those who were under his authority,” if released. Other considerations voiced in the order were Nuon Chea’s personal safety and the preservation of public order.
“We order that Nuon Chea be placed in provisional detention for a period not exceeding one year,” the order concludes.
You Bunleng said Friday that an additional reason for the detention order is to “make the investigation go more smoothly,” but he declined to elaborate.
The detention order states that Nuon Chea is being prosecuted for crimes against humanity, including: murder, torture, imprisonment, persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer, enslavement and other inhuman acts.
He is also being prosecuted for war crimes on the basis of “Grave Breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions,” including: willful killing, torture, inhumane acts, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, willful deprivation of rights to a fair trial, unlawful confinement and unlawful deportation or transfer.
The order states that Nuon Chea allegedly participated in these crimes “by exercising authority and effective control over the internal security apparatus of Democratic Kampuchea (detention centers) and by directing, implementing and enforcing party policy characterized by forcible transfers of the population, enslavement, forced labor and other inhumane acts.”
Nuon Chea, commonly known as “Brother Number 2,” was Pol Pot’s most trusted deputy and a member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea’s Central and Standing Committees—the most senior bodies responsible for party policy.
According to the order, Nuon Chea disputed the charges against him, “indicating that he would be ashamed to have committed such crimes.”
The order states that Nuon Chea told the court that he had no knowledge that crimes were being committed, claiming that the Military Committee, of which he said he was not a member, held the real power in the regime.
“We did not have any direct contact with the bases and we were not aware of what was happening there,” the order quotes Nuon Chea as saying. The order added that Nuon Chea told the court that it was unnecessary to detain him ahead of his trial because he had been “living freely without any resulting disorder” and “has lived very close to the Thai border for years and that it would have been easy for him to escape if he wanted to,” among other reasons.
Son Arun, Nuon Chea’s lawyer, said Friday that he has not decided whether or not to appeal the provisional detention decision.
“I just became his lawyer [Thursday] and I have to check the documents,” he said.
Nuon Chea was taken to Calmette Hospital Friday by the ECCC for a standard medical check-up, Son Arun said, adding that doctors proclaimed him to be in good health.
(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)