Written by Georgia Wilkins
Friday, 27 February 2009
In his absence, lawyers argue for his release
DETAINED former Khmer Rouge minister Ieng Sary's bail hearing was postponed to April 2 after he was deemed unfit by doctors to attend the Khmer Rouge tribunal for the scheduled hearing on Thursday.
The 83-year-old was admitted to hospital Monday after doctors found blood in his urine. He was discharged Wednesday.
Lawyers for the accused octogenarian continued to press for his release in his absence on the basis that insufficient medical care was available at the court's detention centre.
"Pre-trial detention is not a form of punishment," co-lawyer Michael Karnavas told the court.
"One cannot discuss the health issue if one does not know what the heath issue is," he added on the issue of getting doctors to provide information as "experts" to the case.
It was also debated whether or not the court could have a hearing in his absence, with civil party lawyers arguing that a video link to the former leader's jail cell could be set up.
This was dismissed by defence lawyers, who claimed it would give a false sense of justice and strip Ieng Sary's right to participate in his trial.
In a press conference after the hearing, Karnavas criticised the pace of decisions at the UN-backed tribunal.
"When it takes 11 months to make a decision, it is unacceptable," he added, calling the chamber a "black hole".
However Cambodian co-prosecutor Tan Senarong said, "We don't intend any delay of the hearing but unfortunately, as you know, Ieng Sary's health is not good."