Archive for January, 2011

KI Media Thailand takes stand on pagoda

31 January, 2011

February 1, 2011
By SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE
THE NATION

Thailand yesterday officially demanded that Cambodia remove Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda and the Cambodian flag flying over the structure from the disputed border area around Preah Vihear Temple, while reaffirming its vow to resolve boundary issues through “peaceful means”.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement maintaining its claim that the Buddhist pagoda erected by Cambodia in 1998 “is situated on Thai territory”.

The statement was issued days after Phnom Penh rejected Bangkok’s request to take down the Cambodian flag from the pagoda.

Phnom Penh insisted last Friday that it had the legitimate right to fly its flag over the pagoda, which it claimed was on its territory.

The area of 4.6 square kilometres adjacent to Preah Vihear has not yet been demarcated because of the overlapping ownership claims.

The area was delimited in line with the Franco- Siamese treaties of 1904 and 1907. Cambodia claims that the Franco- Siamese joint commission produced a series of maps from 1905-08 to indicate that the area in question is Cambodian territory.

Thailand, in the statement yesterday, said it did not accept the France-made 1:200,000-scale map to determine the boundary line.

Cambodia argues that the International Court of Justice, when it ruled on the Preah Vihear case in 1962, used the map as a basic document to make the judgement, which says “the temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under sovereignty of Cambodia”.

Phnom Penh said the memorandum of understanding on land-boundary demarcation signed by Thailand and Cambodia in 2000 also recognised the French map as the legal basis for boundary surveys and demarcation.

The border conflict has become a thorn in the side of the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration after the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy raised awareness of the issue among the public. The PAD accuses the government of ceding Thai territory to Cambodia ever since the MoU signed in 2000, during the Democrat Party-led administration under Chuan Leekpai, recognised the French map.

They called on the government to scrap the pact and use force to evict the Cambodian community from the area, along with the pagoda. Hundreds of PAD supporters and one of its splinter groups, the Thai Patriots Network, are camping out in protest around Government House.

Thai Patriots Network member Samdin Lertbutr yesterday sued Abhisit, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya for alleged criminal misconduct in causing the loss of territory.

The Thai Patriots Network has insisted that it has proof that the property belongs to Thailand.

Abhisit urged the protesters to share their information on the boundary with the government, rather than protesting and trying to force him to follow their way.

“We have the same goal to protect the national interest. I wonder why we don’t share the information. We have a different stance because we have different information,” he said.

The yellow-shirt demonstration as well as news of the deployment of heavy military hardware to border areas has exacerbated tensions in the relations of the two countries.

Cambodia boosted troops in the border area near Preah Vihear after a report that the Thai military would hold an exercise.

“They [Thai troops] are doing manoeuvres and we are also doing them – that is why we need to send tanks and other weapons to the border,” Cambodian Military Division 3 Commander Srey Doek was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post. “Our armed forces are on alert.”

Abhisit said he did not want to wage any war with Cambodia.

“The two countries retain their same old stance on the issue to protect their respective rights but both sides insist on settling the problem by peaceful means through negotiation,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry in its statement said Thailand was committed to resolving all boundary issues with Cambodia in accordance with international law through peaceful means under the framework of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC).

The determination of the boundary line in the area of Preah Vihear Temple is still subject to ongoing talks under the framework of the JBC, it said.

Abhisit’s government also needs to provide assistance to release nationalist Veera Somkwamkid and his aide Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, who go on trial today in Phnom Penh. They have been detained on the charge of espionage.

The two, together with five other activists who have already been convicted and released, were arrested on December 29 while inspecting the disputed border area near Sa Kaew’s Ban Nong Chan. Their colleagues from the Thai Patriots Network, who are to be in Phnom Penh today, want to ask the court to delay the decision, as they will submit more evidence to prove that the two Thais were arrested on Thai soil.

The neighbourhood in Sa Kaew is also in a grey area but Thai authorities said that in this case the yellow shirts had strayed too far beyond the frontier line claimed by Thailand.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 04:14:00 AM

KI Media Take down those flags

31 January, 2011

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1/02/2011
Bangkok Post
EDITORIAL

Cambodian authorities are being unhelpful or even provocative by extending the issue of their national flag in a disputed border region. The attempt by Phnom Penh’s foreign ministry to turn the issue back on the Thai government is a rather cheap ploy.

It is unresponsive to the elementary and understandable request by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for Cambodian authorities to remove national standards from a border region that is legally disputed and politically tense.

From the government’s statements so far, it appears that a temple is at the heart of the flag issue. The Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda was built more than a decade ago. It predates the controversial memorandum of understanding which is a flashpoint at the yellow shirt rallies. It also is older than the contentious 2001 application by Cambodia for Unesco to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site.

There is a rather insubstantial wooden arch at the end of the temple grounds, above which are two Buddhist flags, and a Cambodian standard. Another flag is painted onto the entranceway.

For years, authorities have either ignored or been unaware of the Cambodian flags. Conveniently, Mr Abhisit has just learned the temple was flying the Cambodian flag. The revelation came immediately after last week’s issue of the stone tablet proclaiming “Here! is Cambodia” and complaining of “Thai invasion”.

Mr Abhisit is certainly right that these bits of Cambodian nationalism are completely out of place. There is no excuse for provocative displays anywhere near the 4.6 sqkm territory claimed by both countries.

It is interesting, however, that the issue of these flags and tablet arose just as three anti-government groups began street rallies. The yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy, its offshoot the Thai Patriots Network and the Santi Asoke sect continued to maintain semi-independence. They are united against the Thai foreign policy towards Cambodia.

It is, indeed, national policy. The disputatious MoU dates back to the Chuan Leekpai government in 2000. Various negotiations and agreements have continued through every government. But the protesters blocking public thoroughfares around Government House believe the policy will result in ceding Thai territory.

Mr Abhisit knows it will not. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, once a firebrand speaker at PAD rallies, knows this, and so does the rational Thai public.

The stone tablet and the flags have given Mr Abhisit a chance to show strength in standing up to the Cambodian government. Without altering agreements and treaties, the prime minister has still been able to show considerable gumption in his demands that Cambodia smash the tablet and, now, remove the flags.

Cambodian forces smashed the offensive stone tablet after Thai complaints. That gesture deserved, and got, credit.

But now Cambodia’s foreign ministry has considered Mr Abhisit’s demand to haul down the flags, and the answer is hardly serious. Mr Abhisit (the Cambodian officials say) is conducting military exercises and making demands that are provocative. Translation: Mr Abhisit is right but sometimes we have to appear tough, too.

It is a problem that Cambodian flags fly at or near disputed territory and they should come down. Mr Abhisit, however, likely could achieve the desired result through diplomatic channels rather than the media. Relations with neighbours are too important to be affected by street rallies.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 04:09:00 AM

KI Media Thai Govt wants temple pulled down

31 January, 2011

Cambodia ‘insulted’ by latest demands

1/02/2011
Bangkok Post

The Thai government has renewed its demand for Phnom Penh to remove a Cambodian national flag flying over a temple on disputed land near the border, and is also now pressing for the temple itself to be dismantled.

The demand was included in a statement issued Monday by the Foreign Affairs Ministry amid reports of troop build-ups by both countries along the border.

“Thailand maintains that the ‘Keo Sikha Kiri Svara’ pagoda is situated on Thai territory, and demands that Cambodia remove both the pagoda and the Cambodian flag flying over the pagoda,” the ministry said in its statement.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday came out to assert Thailand’s sovereignty over the 4.6 square kilometres of land on which the ancient Hindu temple of Preah Vihear is situated.

The statement prompted a fierce response from Phnom Penh, which labelled the demand as “insulting and unacceptable”.

Both Thailand and Cambodia claim ownership of the border area.

The Foreign Ministry said Monday Bangkok was ready to settle the disputed border line through peaceful negotiations. However it would not accept Phnom Penh’s assertion that the 1:200,000-scale map used by Cambodia forms the basis for determining the boundary.

Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh municipal court will continue its trial today of two Thais arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Dec 29 for alleged illegal entry into Cambodia and espionage.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdee said the Phnom Penh court would continue hearing the case against Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkhwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon at about 7am. He did not know if the court would hand down a verdict right away.

A co-leader of the Thai Patriots Network, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, said yesterday the two Thais would insist they had been arrested on Thai territory.

He said he had a document from the Foreign Ministry showing that the ministry agreed with Cambodia on the coordinates where Mr Veera, Ms Ratree and five other Thais were arrested.

The document gave Cambodia the edge in its legal action against the Thais, he said.

Prime Minister Abhisit said yesterday the government tried to have Ms Ratree returned to Thailand at the same time as five other Thais on Jan23, but she chose to defend herself in a different way to her compatriots. Ms Ratree is the secretary of Mr Veera.

Mr Abhisit also said he was concerned that negative remarks by People’s Alliance for Democracy figures about Cambodia could affect assistance for Mr Veera and Ms Ratree.

PAD supporters Samdin Lertbutr and Tainae Mungmajon, who were arrested with Mr Veera and Ms Ratree, filed a lawsuit with the Criminal Court yesterday accusing the prime minister, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon of malfeasance and of taking actions that might cause the loss of Thai territory.

The lawsuit states armed Cambodian troops arrested their group of seven Thais on Thai territory in Ban Nong Jan of Khok Sung district, Sa Kaeo, on Dec 29.

Mr Abhisit, Mr Suthep, Mr Kasit and Gen Prawit took no action against Cambodia at the time and told the media the group had travelled a kilometre into Cambodian territory.

The ministers also allowed the Cambodian court judge to convict the seven as illegal immigrants, which was tantamount to accepting Cambodian sovereignty over the area in Ban Nong Jan, the two men told the court in their application.

The Criminal Court will hold a preliminary examination of the case on May21.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 04:02:00 AM

KI Media “Cambodia is not a ‘child’ that we Thailand can order to do what…

31 January, 2011

Flag flap pits Abhisit against military

ANALYSIS: The PM’s new strong stance worries some among the top brass

1/02/2011
Bangkok Post

The border dispute with Cambodia is driving a wedge between Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and military leaders.

Mr Abhisit is demanding that Cambodia remove all national flags from Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara.

The prime minister considers the 4.6-square-kilometre area near Preah Vihear temple, on which Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara stands, to be part of Thailand.

Military leaders believe Cambodia’s earlier agreement to remove two stone tablets at Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara which carried claims of ownership of the area should be taken into consideration by Mr Abhisit.

The first tablet labelled Thai troops who had been stationed in the zone as “invaders”, while the second was engraved with the statement: “Here! is Cambodia”.

The Cambodian government agreed to remove both.

Mr Abhisit’s latest demands are akin to “unrelenting” pressure on the Cambodian government, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said yesterday.

He said the flags issue was “trivial”.

“The temple put up the Cambodian national flags [not the government],” Gen Prawit said.

“Cambodia has already agreed to destroy the marble tablets at Wat Kaew [Sikha Khiri Sawara]. What else does [Mr Abhisit] want from them?

The defence minister asked the media to avoid presenting reports that could lead to conflict between the two countries.

He also urged political groups not to exploit international affairs for their own gain.

An army source said Thai military leaders were unhappy with Mr Abhisit for making such demands without asking for information from the armed forces.

[Mr Abhisit] seems to want to ease political pressure [at home] at the same time as building up his image to look stronger than his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen,” the source said.

“However, those who are placed in difficult situations are us [soldiers].”

The source, who is stationed near the disputed area, said local army officers had not yet told the Cambodian soldiers to remove the national flags from the temple, although they have inquired about who erected them.

Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon, the commander of the 2nd Army in charge of the eastern provinces bordering Cambodia and one of army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha’s close friends, said the prime minister might have his own reasons for his displeasure over the Cambodian flags, but insisting that they be removed would meet opposition.

Cambodia is not a ‘child’ that we can order to do whatever we want,” Lt Gen Thawatchai said.

“Moreover, we just demanded that they [Cambodia soldiers] destroy the tablets, which they agreed to do.”

Tensions along the eastern border have risen since the stone tablets at Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara were erected.

The Thai army has mobilised troops and heavy war weapons along the border in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province, although it claims this was part of regular military training. The Cambodian military responded by mobilising troops, armoured vehicles and rocket launchers to reinforce its outposts.

The tension led to a visit to the disputed area last Friday by Hun Sen’s 33-year-old son, Brig Gen Hun Manet, in a bid to map out battle strategies for the Cambodian military.

Gen Prawit is playing down the reinforcement of troops by the two countries.

“We [Thai soldiers] are ready to fight to protect our land, but don’t worry: The relationship between the Thai and Cambodian military is still on good terms,” he said.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 03:57:00 AM

KI Media Thailand’s Foreign Ministry statement concerning the Cambodian fla…

31 January, 2011

February 1, 2011
The Nation

The Foreign Ministry’s statement concerning the Cambodian flag over Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda:

“With reference to the declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia dated January 28, 2011 regarding the issue of the flag of the Kingdom of Cambodia that is flying over the “Keo Sikha Kiri Svara” Pagoda, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand wishes to state the following:

1. According to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary of 2000, the 1904 and 1907 Treaties and “other documents relating to the application” of both treaties are the relevant legal documents to determine the boundary line. Thailand therefore does not accept the assertion by Cambodia that the 1:200,000 map is the basis for determining the boundary.

2. Cambodia also admitted in the aforementioned declaration that the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of 1962 did not rule on the question of the boundary line between Thailand and Cambodia.

3. Thailand maintains that the “Keo Sikha Kiri Svara” Pagoda is situated on Thai territory, and demands that Cambodia remove both the pagoda and the Cambodian flag flying over the pagoda. This is a reiteration of the many protests that Thailand has submitted to Cambodia regarding the activities carried out in the pagoda and the surrounding area, all of which constitute violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Thailand.

4. The Ministry reaffirms Thailand’s commitment to resolving all boundary issues with Cambodia in accordance with international law through peaceful means under the framework of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC). The determination of the boundary line in the area of the Temple of Phra Viharn [Preah Vihear Temple] is still subject to ongoing negotiation under the framework of the JBC.”


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 01:38:00 AM

KI Media Bid to damp down border tension

31 January, 2011
Khmer+soldier+playing+game+in+Preah+Vihear+%2528PPP%2529.jpg
A Cambodian soldier plays a game on his phone while on duty close to Preah Vihear temple in February last year. (Photo by: Heng Chivoan)

MONDAY, 31 JANUARY 2011
CHEANG SOKHA AND KIM YUTHANA
Phnom Penh Post

Military commanders from Cambodia and Thailand held meetings along the border today in a bid to defuse a spike in military tensions, a military official said.

In recent days, Cambodia has deployed infantry, tanks and heavy artillery along the Thai border in response to a demand from Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that Cambodian flags be removed from Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara, a pagoda close to Preah Vihear.

A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces official based at Preah Vihear, who declined to be named, said today that military commanders based at Phnom Trop and Ta Thav met to affirm their positions and damp down tensions.

“The situation is fragile, as troops from both sides are on alert,” he said, adding: “We have reinforced our troops only for defending our territory.”

The official said that during the talks, Thai commanders asked why Cambodia had moved troops into border areas.

The Cambodian commanders said the movements were in response to Abhisit’s demands for the removal of the flags, as well as the apparent Thai plans to hold military exercises close to the border.

“We will not allow them to enter Cambodian soil to remove the flags,” the official said. “Thailand has added troops and heavy weapons along the border and we have acted in kind.”

Srey Doek, military commander of RCAF Military Division 3 based at Preah Vihear, declined to comment.

Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said today that the fresh deployments of Cambodian troops and armour in border areas adjoining Sisaket province were no cause for worry, the Bangkok Post reported.

“I believe there are no serious problems on the Thai-Cambodian border,” Prawit said.

“The Foreign Ministry should be able settle the dispute through talks.”

The military talks come a day ahead of the trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court of Veera Somkwamkid, a high-profile Thai Yellow Shirt activist, and his secretary Ratree Taiputana Taiboon.

The pair were part of a group of seven Thais who were arrested for trespassing on Cambodian territory in Banteay Meanchey province on December 29.

The group reportedly travelled to the border to “investigate” the demarcation of the countries’ shared border.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, who met with Yellow Shirt representatives today in Phnom Penh, confirmed that Veera will face court today.

He added that he was powerless to act on requests that he intervene to free the two defendants.

“We cannot do anything before the court proceeding as it is illegal,” he said.

“The government cannot interfere with the court’s affairs.”


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 12:28:00 AM

Frail and unrepentant: Top Khmer Rouge leaders appear in court to argue for release as they await genocide trial

31 January, 2011

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Khieu+Samphan+on+31+Jan+2011+%2528AP%2529.jpg
On the stand: ‘Brother Number Two’ Nuon Chea listens in court and, right, former head of the Khmer Rouge state Khieu Samphan has headphones on
Ieng+Thirith+on+31+Jan+2011+%2528Reuters%2529.jpg
Custody: Khmer Rouge ‘First Lady’ Ieng Thirith, a former social affairs minister, left the court hearing early

31st January 2011
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER (UK)

Three top Khmer Rouge leaders made a joint appearance before a UN-backed war crimes court today to seek release from custody as they await trial for genocide.

‘Brother Number Two’ Nuon Chea and ex-social affairs minister Ieng Thirith looked frail as they sat in the courtroom with former head of state Khieu Samphan.

There are strong concerns that not all of the defendants, who are aged between 78 and 85, will live to see a verdict.

They are accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other charges under Cambodian laws in connection with the deaths of up to two million people between 1975 and 1979 as a result of starvation, overwork and execution.

Lawyers called for their ‘immediate release’, claiming their detention was illegal because they had not been brought to trial four months after their indictments were issued.

Jasper Pauw, defending, said ‘there are no conceivable reasons to keep Nuon Chea in custody’.

A pale Ieng Thirith, described as the ‘First Lady’ of the Khmer Rouge, left the courtroom as soon as proceedings began and waived her right to attend the hearing.

Nuon Chea – who wore sunglasses to protect his eyes from the light – suffered a dizzy spell and was sent to the court’s detention facility on medical advice.

Fellow accused Ieng Sary, the regime’s foreign minister, did not attend the hearing. His lawyers claim he was too ill to spend full days in court.

All four defendants have been detained since they were arrested in 2007.

Prosecutors dismissed the call for their release and said they could try to escape the country or exert pressure on witnesses if freed.

Andrew Cayley, prosecuting, said: ‘The passage of time has not diminished the impact of these crimes.’

A ruling on the request will be made in mid-February, but they are unlikely to be freed because of the uproar it would cause in Cambodia.

Chab Chhean, 60, who lost 12 relatives under the regime, said outside court: ‘The court must not release them because they abused the people so much.’

The trial, the tribunal’s second, is due to start in the next five months and is expected to be lengthy as all four leaders dispute the charges against them.

It follows the landmark conviction in July of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the deaths of around 15,000 men, women and children.

The court, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty, handed Duch a 30-year jail term – but he could walk free in 19 years because of time already served.

Both Duch, 68, and the prosecution have appealed against the sentence.

Led by ‘Brother Number One’ Pol Pott, who died in 1998, the Marxist Khmer Rouge regime emptied entire cities in the late 1970s in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 2/01/2011 12:18:00 AM

KI Media Thailand escalates its demand: Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak must be r…

31 January, 2011

Wat+Keo+Sekha+02+%2528Bkk+Post%2529.jpg

Thailand asserts Cambodia will remove flag from Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda

BANGKOK, Jan 31 (MCOT online news) — Thailand has demanded that Cambodia remove both the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda and the Cambodian flag flying over the pagoda while reasserting that the pagoda is in Thai territory.

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday issued a statement asserting that Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda built by Cambodia in 1998 is situated on Thai territory and demanded that the neighbouring country remove both the pagoda and the national flag flying over the pagoda.

The statement said it is a reiteration of the many protests Thailand has submitted regarding Cambodian activities at the pagoda and the surrounding area, all of which constitute violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Thailand.

The statement was issued days after Phnom Penh rejected a Thai demand to remove the Cambodian national flag, saying that the Cambodian flag is legitimate at the pagoda as it is situated inside Cambodia.

The Cambodian government earlier reiterated that Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, nearby Preah Vihear, is clearly situated within the territory of Cambodia according to the map drawn by the Franco-Siamese Commission in 1908.

The Thai ministry of foreign affairs added that according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Thailand and Cambodia on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary of 2000, the 1904 and 1907 Treaties and “other documents relating to the application” of both treaties are the relevant legal documents to determine the boundary line.

Thailand therefore does not accept the assertion by Cambodia that the 1:200,000 Map is the basis for determining the boundary, it said.

The ministry also reaffirmed Thailand’s commitment to resolving all boundary issues with Cambodia in accordance with international law through peaceful means under the framework of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for the Land Boundary (JBC). The determination of the boundary line in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear is still subject to ongoing negotiation under the framework of the JBC.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 1/31/2011 11:26:00 PM

KI Media Former Khmer Rouge Leaders ask Court to Release Them

31 January, 2011
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Nuon Chea, former deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, looks on during a joint hearing with other top Khmer Rouge leaders, Khieu Samphan, former head of state, and Ieng Thirith, former social affairs minister, at the court hall of the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, January 31, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Robert Carmichael, VOA
Phnom Penh January 31, 2011

In Cambodia, defense lawyers for three former Khmer Rouge leaders – set to stand trial later this year – called on the international war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh to release them.

Monday marked the first time that the three former Khmer Rouge leaders have appeared together at the international war crimes tribunal.

Their lawyers asked the court to release them ahead of their trial, which is expected to start later this year.

They told the court their elderly clients had been in pre-trial detention for longer than the tribunal’s rules permitted.

The three accused in court were Nuon Chea, the movement’s chief ideologue who was known as Brother Number Two; Khieu Samphan, who was the movement’s head of state; and Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister.

The fourth defendant, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, did not appeal the tribunal’s recent ruling that all four must remain in custody ahead of their trial.

International prosecutor Andrew Cayley said Monday that Nuon Chea’s request for release ran counter to international jurisprudence.

He said among other things, Nuon Chea should remain in custody because he had shown himself capable of intimidating those below him in the Khmer Rouge hierarchy.

At least one of those people is scheduled to testify against Nuon Chea, and Cayley said other witnesses were also fearful of testifying. “Your honors, given the accused’s position within Democratic Kampuchea, he could put pressure on witnesses. Especially those under his authority, and indeed there has been some evidence of that already,” Cayley stated.

Prosecutors also warned that the defendants had access to the names of witnesses.

The court is expected to rule on the request for release within 30 days.

Earlier this month the four were charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes under Cambodian law. They deny the charges.

As many as 2.2 million people died under the Khmer Rouge movement’s rule of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

The movement’s leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

Last year the tribunal sentenced the movement’s former security chief, Comrade Duch, to 30 years. Both the prosecution and Duch’s lawyers have appealed the verdict, which will be heard in late March.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 1/31/2011 11:57:00 PM

KI Media Khmer Rouge suspects seek release ahead of trial

31 January, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011
By Suy Se (AFP)

PHNOM PENH — Three top Khmer Rouge leaders made a rare joint appearance before Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes court on Monday to seek release from custody while they await trial for genocide.

“Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and ex-social affairs minister Ieng Thirith looked frail as they sat in the courtroom with former head of state Khieu Samphan, underscoring fears that not all the defendants, aged 78 to 85, will live to see a verdict.

Along with a fourth accused they face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and related crimes under Cambodian laws in connection with the deaths of up to two million people between 1975 and 1979 from starvation, overwork and execution.

Lawyers for the three called for their “immediate release”, claiming their continued detention was illegal because the defendants had not been brought to trial four months after their indictments were issued.

While the accused are not seeking to have the charges dropped, acting co-lawyer Jasper Pauw said “there are no conceivable reasons to keep Nuon Chea in custody”, in comments echoed by the other two defence teams.

A pale-looking Ieng Thirith, sometimes described as the “First Lady” of the Khmer Rouge, left the courtroom almost as soon as proceedings began, referring to a written statement instead and waiving her right to attend the hearing.

Nuon Chea — who wore sunglasses to protect his eyes from the light — suffered a dizzy spell early on and was sent back to the court’s detention facility on medical advice.

Khieu Samphan was the only defendant to remain in court for the duration of the hearing. “Please abide by the law,” he told the court in his sole statement.

Absent from the session was fellow accused Ieng Sary, the regime’s former foreign minister and Ieng Thirith’s husband, who did not seek release at the hearing. His lawyers recently requested half-day trial sessions, claiming their client was too ill to spend full days in court.

All four defendants have been detained since they were arrested in 2007.

The co-prosecutors dismissed the defence lawyers’ arguments, using a different interpretation of the rules on provisional detention and its time limits.

They also said the defendants should remain locked up because they may try to escape the country and could exert pressure on witnesses if freed.

“The passage of time has not diminished the impact of these crimes,” said co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley.

A ruling on the accused’s request is expected in mid-February, though observers believe the accused are unlikely to go free as releasing them could cause an uproar in Cambodia.

“The court must not release them because they abused the people so much,” 60-year-old farmer Chab Chhean, who lost 12 relatives under the regime, said outside the court.

The upcoming trial, the tribunal’s second, is due to start in the first half of this year and is expected to be a lengthy and complex one with all four former leaders disputing the charges against them.

It follows the landmark July conviction of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the deaths of around 15,000 men, women and children.

The court — which does not have the power to impose the death penalty — handed Duch a 30-year jail term but he could walk free in 19 years given time already served. Both Duch, 68, and the prosecution have appealed against the sentence.

Hearings for those appeals are scheduled to take place in the last week of March.

Led by “Brother Number One” Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Marxist Khmer Rouge regime emptied cities in the late 1970s in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.


Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 1/31/2011 11:47:00 PM