Although the lawyers for the only two Khmer Rouge leaders now in detention had differing opinions on the UN’s decision to pull out of the Khmer Rouge tribunals, they agreed their clients should be released on bail within the next three months in accordance with the law.
Benson Samay, attorney for Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok, said his client should either be tried by a military court or released on bail by March 9. That date marks the three-year anniversary of Ta Mok’s detention, and under current laws he should be released if there is no trial, Benson Samay said.
“So far, the courts have shown no evidence that my client was responsible in the killings…. No one has documents about where or when these incidents occurred,” Benson Samay said. “My client never signed an order to kill anyone.”
Authorities detained Ta Mok in 1999 under legislation outlawing the Khmer Rouge.
Benson Samay expressed his readiness to go to trial, saying that he expected his client would still get a fair hearing without the UN’s participation.
Kar Savuth, lawyer for Kaing Kek Keu, also known as “Duch,” the director of the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, said his client should be released on bail or tried by May. Duch was arrested two months after Ta Mok.
“If the government doesn’t ask for an extension of [Duch’s] detention, I will ask for Duch’s release,” Kar Savuth said.
He disagreed with Benson Samay, saying his client could not get a fair trial without UN participation.
“Maybe the UN is weak for not joining [in the tribunal], but we need the UN to have a fair trial,” he said.
Ney Thol, the military court chief, could not say whether the court will release the two Khmer Rouge officials when their three-year deadlines come up. He said that due to international concerns over the case, the two suspects will most likely not be released without a trial regardless of the length of their detention.
Criminal suspects in Cambodia are routinely held past the six-month deadline for trial. Special legislation has extended the deadline for Ta Mok and Duch.