Lawyers for former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary said Tuesday they are being denied access to their hospitalized client, and are now asking the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to mandate that they be allowed enter the hospital.
Ieng Sary was admitted to Calmette Hospital on Sunday and remained there Tuesday after blood was discovered in his urine, and his condition might require “medical interventions,” said Michael Karnavas, one of Ieng Sary’s lawyers.
According to Karnavas, Ieng Sary’s Cambodian co-lawyer, Ang Udom, was not allowed in to see Ieng Sary at the hospital.
“What troubles us most is the fact that we do not have access to Mr Ieng Sary while he is in the hospital. It is a bit of a circus: who is in control?” Karnavas wrote in an e-mail, adding that he and Ang Udom complained to the tribunal.
Karnavas and Ang Udom were previously denied access to their client when he was admitted to Calmette in August.
ECCC Co-Investigating Judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng wrote to Calmette in June and again in July asking that hospitalized defendants be able to see their lawyers. The hospital’s authorities responded that the hospital was for medicine only and that lawyers were getting in the way of treatment.
Karnavas said Tuesday that the co-investigating judge should now order the hospital to grant access.
“They should just issue a binding order and the hospital authorities should comply. If there is no compliance, [then] the OCJI should react, and if necessary hold who ever is responsible in contempt,” he wrote in his e-mail.
Contacted Tuesday, Lemonde said it was not the judges’ place to dictate how medicine should be practiced.
“I don’t think we, judges, can settle the issue. We have said what was on our mind…. The tribunal cannot order doctors to practice medicine in such or such a way,” Lemonde said by telephone Tuesday.
Ministry of Health Secretary of State Heng Taikry, who is also Calmette’s director, declined to comment.
This latest hospitalization of Ieng Sary, who already stayed at Calmette overnight Dec 23 and 24, raises again the question of whether he is fit to remain in detention and stand trial, Karnavas added.
Lemonde responded that Ieng Sary’s health was monitored daily.
“It’s a recurring demand,” Lemonde said.
“But the response is always the same: if he weren’t fit to be in detention, it is self-evident that he wouldn’t be detained anymore,” he added.