Separate Case Proposed for Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith

The UN Secretary-General’s adviser on the Khmer Rouge tribunal, David Tolbert, has suggested creating a separate case file for crimes against humanity suspects Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith in order to bring them to trial sooner, according to diplomatic sources.

The court’s co-investigating judges in September of last year severed former S-21 torture prison Director Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, from their original case, saying Duch could be brought to trial sooner if investigated separately. Currently, the case file for Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith is also that for the tribunal’s two other detainees: Brother Number Two Nuon Chea and former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan.

Donor country representatives said last week that Tolbert, who was scheduled to arrive in Phnom Penh on Saturday for consultations with diplomats and court officials, had mentioned the possibility, perhaps out of concern for Ieng Sary’s reportedly failing health.

“He presented the possibility of doing two and two,” a donor country representative at the UN in New York said Thursday. “As I know, he didn’t ask the judges; he only suggested [this].”

A European donor representative said Tolbert had expressed concern for the married couple’s health.

“He mentioned it to me for one reason,” he said. “It seemed they were a couple…in extremely fragile health.”

International Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde said Friday he could not comment on pending judicial matters. Peter Foster, the court’s UN spokesman, said in an e-mail Saturday that the court does not comment on anonymous statements.

“In general terms however, when the budget document was being drafted, all possibilities were taken into consideration. But as we have said repeatedly, the budget document is not a mandate for the judicial work of the court.” Foster wrote. “The prosecutors and investigating judges have, and will continue to, base decisions about their work on the evidence and the mandate of the court—nothing more.”

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