KRT Defendant Khieu Samphan Seeks Bail as Case Languishes

Lawyers for war crimes defendant Khieu Samphan on Monday filed a motion for his immediate bail, arguing that their client’s right to a trial with a “reasonable delay” had been violated and that his continued detention was “excessive and unjustified.”

The 15-page application, which was filed by lawyers Jacques Verges, Arthur Vercken and Anta Guisse from Paris, and Kong Sam Onn from Phnom Penh, argues that any risks posed by Khieu Samphan since his arrest and detention in 2007 have all but evaporated. He is neither a flight-risk, nor is there any perceived risk to his security should he be released, it stressed.

“He has been provisionally de­tained for five years and four months, but Khieu Samphan is still presumed innocent. Today he is already 82,” it adds. “It is unacceptable to keep him in detention without a judgment.”

The filing called for a public hearing to be held to allow the elderly war crimes defendant to pledge that he would fulfill the legal stipulations required by the court should he be released, and would continue to be present at his trial.

Khieu Samphan is one of two remaining defendants in Case 002, the aim of which is to try the most senior leaders responsible for a litany of crimes committed during the Pol Pot regime. Ieng Thirith was declared unfit to stand trial last year, while her husband, Ieng Sary, died on March 14.

The case has languished before the Trial Chamber since it be­gan in November 2011, largely due to health concerns of his co-defendants, but former head of state Khieu Samphan has been a consistent, if quiet, presence in the courtroom.

“How and when will Khieu Samphan be judged for the totality of the charges against him…at the moment, it seems impossible to respond to this question,” the application says, repeatedly noting delays in the case.

To support its bid, the filing quotes former Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde as saying in an interview with a French website last month that the trial is proceeding in “a chaotic manner, less and less satisfactory, slowly, with repeated procedural battles, uncertain health of the accused, and financial uncertainty.”

It says that Khieu Samphan’s fundamental rights and human dignity are being violated by his continued detention.

“The risks justifying his initial deprivation of liberty are now very weak or nonexistent,” it says. “Each of these risks can be prevented by placing him under judicial control.”

Hearings are set to resume on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Kate Bartlett)

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