All five suspects currently held at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have the right to communicate with each other while in detention and an order preventing this should be nullified, lawyers for former Brother Number Two Nuon Chea have argued.
In an appeal filed with the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber on Monday, defense attorneys Son Arun and Michiel Pestman claimed co-investigating judges have segregated the detainees in violation of a higher ruling at the court.
Overturning a decision of the co-investigating judges, the Pre-Trial Chamber in April granted a defense motion for detainees Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, married 57 years, to be allowed to meet while in jail.
The ruling also said that in ordering the segregation of any of the detainees, judges must explain how it protects the ongoing investigation.
The following month, co-investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng ruled that Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith could have “a degree of controlled contact” but that other detainees were prohibited from communicating to prevent their collusion and to protect the judicial investigation.
Nuon Chea’s lawyers said in their appeal that the Pre-Trial Chamber decision should apply to all defendants, not just Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.
Co-investigating judges have not provided evidence that contact among detainees would pose a danger and failed to balance the need to protect the investigation against the defendants’ rights.
Pestman and Son Arun wrote that the difficulty of travel between Pailin and Phnom Penh meant Nuon Chea saw his family infrequently.
“[T]he presumption of innocence entitles Mr Nuon to a reasonable private life beyond routine legal visits and conversation with his jailers,” they wrote.
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said that draft rules for the court’s detention center had been reviewed by court officials and are to be submitted to the Interior Ministry for consideration “very soon.”
(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)