Arrested a year ago today, Brother Number Two Nuon Chea had his pretrial detention period extended for up to another year by Khmer Rouge tribunal judges Tuesday.
Defense lawyers for Nuon Chea said Thursday that the detention had been renewed over their objections and that they intended to appeal, arguing that evidence and circumstances do not justify keeping their 82-year-old client behind bars for a second year without trial.
The most senior surviving member of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea, 82, became the second person to be detained by the tribunal when about 70 police surrounded his home in Pailin’s Spar Prum village and escorted him to a waiting RCAF helicopter.
Under tribunal rules, people suspected of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity may be provisionally detained for up to a year ahead of trial. Judges may twice decide to renew detention for periods of a year.
In their decision Tuesday, co-investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng said they had overruled defense objections that evidence may not be strong enough to justify a second year of detention.
The court’s Pre-Trial Chamber in March affirmed Nuon Chea’s detention, saying S-21 prison director Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, had implicated Nuon Chea in the detention center’s operation.
Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer Victor Koppe said that under international law, justifying a suspect’s detention becomes harder with the passage of time.
Koppe said the defense had 10 days from the order to file notice of an appeal, and added that while the trial of Duch was quickly approaching, the defense had seen little activity in the investigation of their client.
Judges Lemonde and You Bunleng said that since the March decision Duch had made 23 additional statements concerning the role played by Nuon Chea.
Continued detention was therefore justified, they wrote.