|Written by Brendan Brady|
|Tuesday, 30 December 2008|
Pre-Trial Chamber says it has no jurisdiction to reverse provisional detention of former Khmer Rouge head of state
A REQUEST for the release of Khieu Samphan from pretrial detention has been ruled as inadmissible by Khmer Rouge tribunal judges who say they have no jurisdiction to rule on the application.
In a statement dated Wednesday, the Pre-Trial Chamber refused to review a petition by the defence team for the release from custody of the former Khmer Rouge head of state, who is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The pretrial chamber president, Judge Prak Kimsan, wrote that he "has no jurisdiction to decide on the application and will therefore declare it inadmissible".
The decision corroborated the co-prosecutors' retort that the tribunal's rules "supercede" the Cambodian Penal Code and "do not allow such application" before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the UN-backed court.
The petition, filed December 4 by co-lawyers Jacques Verges and Sa Sovan, insisted Khieu Samphan should be released until decisions are delivered on their other outstanding appeals, including one against an earlier court decision that denied the full translation of their client's case file into French. Verges maintains that this prevents him from defending his client in his native language.
In their submission, the defence took wider jabs at the court, writing that their client "is being held arbitrarily, based on a non-existent juridical act".
In October, the tribunal extended 77-year-old Khieu Samphan's pretrial detention for an additional year as delays continued to hamper the proceedings.
Of the five suspects under provisional arrest, he was the last to be refused release under any circumstance, including hospitalisation as alternative confinement.
Verges has repeatedly accused the tribunal of engaging in "lynch mob justice", telling the German news magazine Der Spiegel last month he doubted his client's case would ever go to trial because the court had "gambled away its credibility and legitimacy" by failing to adhere to procedures.
Both defence lawyers are in France and could not be contacted for comment on Monday.