Cambodia genocide court rules ex-Khmer Rouge official detained unlawfully

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) ruled [decision, PDF; press release, PDF] Monday that former Khmer Rogue [BBC backgrounder] leader Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder, JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch," has been detained unlawfully for the past 10 years, but denied a defense request for his release. The defense had requested the release for the duration of his trial in light of the fact that Duch had been illegally held by a Cambodian Military Court prior to being transferred to the ECCC's custody. Considering the need to balance the rights of the accused against the rights of the community:


The Chamber [found] that although the Accused's prior detention amounted to a clear violation of his rights, absent allegations of torture or serious mistreatment by the national authorities, this would appear insufficient to debar the exercise of the ECCC's discretion to order provisional detention.

The court also deemed "provisional detention necessary in order to ensure the presence of the Accused Person during the proceedings and for the protection of his security and the preservation of public order." Accordingly, Kaing's request for release was denied, although he has the right to sue for compensation if found innocent or to be credited with time served if found guilty.

In April, Kaing admitted to training prison staff to use torture [JURIST report]. He recently requested release to "safe house" [JURIST report] during his Cambodia genocide trial, though he lost a similar appeal [JURIST report] of his pre-trial detention in 2007. His trial is the first of eight [JURIST report] that the ECCC hopes to hear against former members of the Khmer Rouge, which has been accused of murdering 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] during its nearly four-year reign. The ECCC has long been plagued with accusations of corruption and inadequate funding, with greater problems in recent years. In March, the ECCC reported that it would be unable to pay its Cambodian employees [JURIST report] for that month, one year after the court had requested $114 million dollars from the UN [JURIST report].

 

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