Appointing a doctor to examine war crimes suspect Ieng Sary’s fitness to stand trial may be prudent even if there are no outward signs he is unfit, prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have argued.
Contained in a pleading filed Friday, the arguments were similar to those co-prosecutors Chea Leang and Robert Petit made last month in responding to an appeal by lawyers for Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, who also said their client’s physical and psychological fitness should be independently verified.
Complaining of dizziness, Ieng Sary exited the courtroom during his first public tribunal appearance June 30. His lawyers then complained that investigating judges had not responded to their requests for a fitness examination and asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to do so instead.
In Friday’s response, a copy of which was obtained Tuesday, prosecutors said the investigating judges had already appointed two teams of doctors and that Ieng Sary had appeared lucid and attentive in all proceedings.
While arguing that defense complaints of inaction by the co-investigating judges were incorrect, prosecutors still took issue with a finding by the co-investigating judges that it was premature to determine the suspects’ fitness.
In responses to defense teams for both Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary, co-investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng have said defendants’ mental fitness is not a concern in the pretrial phase.
“The Co-Investigating Judges’ interpretation is inconsistent with the nature of the proceedings,” Petit and Chea Leang wrote. “A charged person participates in the proceedings from the day he is brought before the Co-Investigating Judges.”
Hisham Mousar, who monitors the court for the rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday that prosecutors know there is little risk a doctor will find that Ieng Sary or Nuon Chea are too sick to be tried.
“They know very well that no international medical expert has identified a chronic or grave illness which would have as a consequence that these people can no longer participate in a definitive manner,” he said.