Cambodia’s genocide tribunal rejected a former Khmer Rouge leader’s appeal Friday for his release from pretrial detention on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Judges of the UN-assisted tribunal’s pretrial chamber upheld the detention of Khieu Samphan saying that the measure was necessary for his own safety.
Khieu Samphan, who has been detained since November 2007, is one of the five former Khmer Rouge leaders in custody for their alleged involvement in the group’s brutal 1975-79 rule. He served as the regime’s head of state.
“He was one of the most prominent politicians and a Khmer Rouge leader. He also received a beating by an angry mob in 1991,” said Prak Kimsan, the chair of the five-judge panel.
In 1991, Khieu Samphan was attacked by a government-organised mob and almost killed.
Khieu Samphan may be held in provisional detention until November 19, 2009, a statement issued by the panel said.
In November, lawyers for the 77-year-old filed an appeal to the tribunal for his release, citing his poor health.
An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died from forced labour, starvation, medical neglect and executions under the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.
Kaing Guek Eav _ better known as Duch is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial. He was the head of a notorious prison and is accused of overseeing the torture of some 16,000 inmates before they were executed.
Duch (pronounced DOIK) is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and murder, and could face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Cambodia has no death penalty.
Khieu Samphan and other senior leaders, including Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, are all in detention and likely to face trial in the next year or two.