Finding that former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s oldest detainee, was too ill to leave his cell, the court on Thursday adjourned his second bail hearing until April 2, but also declined to allow his defense lawyers to argue in favor of additional testimony by doctors.
Hospitalized for a 10th time Monday after passing blood in his urine again, the 83-year-old war crimes suspect returned to the tribunal Wednesday afternoon but was not present in the courtroom Thursday. Defense lawyers said their client did not want them to argue for bail before the Pre-Trial Chamber in his absence.
Saying substantial evidence justified it, judicial investigators in November renewed Ieng Sary’s pretrial detention for a period not to exceed one year.
Defense lawyers said Thursday that Ieng Sary had nevertheless authorized them to proceed with arguments that the testimony of his doctors, which the court on Monday had already declined to summon, is necessary in order to determine his fitness to stand trial.
“It is high time to also have both medical and psychological testing on a continuing basis to see whether Mr Ieng Sary is fit to stand trial. That is not something that can wait, that is not something to be decided if there is ever a confirmation of this indictment procedure,” said US defense lawyer Michael Karnavas.
“If decisions have to be made as to whether Mr Ieng Sary is fit to stand trial, physically or psychologically …those decisions cannot be made unless we have proper medical testimony brought before you,” Karnavas said.
International Deputy Co-Prosecutor Anees Ahmed said Karnavas’ arguments concerning medical testimony amount to the same thing as arguing for bail, which his client did not want him to do.
Ahmed also argued that, since Ieng Sary’s detention was renewed in November, the Ieng Sary defense had not raised the question of expert medical testimony with the co-investigating judges, meaning it should not be raised before the Pre-Trial Chamber.
Karnavas replied that he was discussing a separate matter.
“Obviously, my learned friend fails to comprehend that one cannot discuss the health issue unless one actually knows what the health issues are all about,” he said.
“It is our submission that you need this information, you need it for the next hearing,”
Speaking for the bench, Pre-Trial Chamber President Prak Kimsan said the court had rejected a defense request for the testimony of Dr Paulus Falke, chief doctor for detainees at all tribunals at The Hague, as “the evidence he can provide would be indirect.”
On Feb 12, Falke stated that more tests may be necessary to determine Ieng Sary’s fitness.
Karnavas said Thursday that the defense would renew its requests for expert medical testimony, including Falke’s.