Noun Chea Seeks Bail
UPDATED ON: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2008
The most senior surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, has returned to court to resume his appeal hearing before a United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia.
Nuon Chea's pre-trial hearing on Thursday marked the continuation of an appeal against his continued detention and a request for release on bail pending trial.
Prosecutors have said the so-called "Brother Number Two" of the Khmer Rouge could try to flee the country, interfere with witnesses, or may be at risk of attack if he is released.
But on Thursday Nuon Chea told the court that fears for his safety were exaggerated because he had been living in "peace and harmony" at his home in Pailin near the Thai border.
"I have no desire to leave my beloved country," he told the court in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. "No one is worried about my security."
Earlier this week the tribunal's pre-trial chamber adjourned a bail hearing after Nuon Chea demanded an "international standard" of justice, and asked to be represented by a foreign lawyer in addition to a Cambodian one.
His Dutch lawyer, Michiel Pestman, failed to turn up in court on Monday and his replacement, Victor Koppe, was barred for not having proper accreditation.
The tribunal decided to resume the hearing after Koppe was formally sworn in by the Cambodian Bar Association, and was able to present his client's appeal on Thursday.
Nuon Chea, 81, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity including "murder, torture, imprisonment, persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer, enslavement and other inhumane acts".
Nuon Chea, who was arrested last September, is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting trial before the "Killing Fields" tribunal, expected to start later this year.
The former deputy to Pol Pot, the notorious leader of the Khmer Rouge who died in 1998, has denied guilt saying he was not a "cruel" man, but "a patriot".
He has also argued that the tribunal's investigating judges did not have sufficient grounds to detain him.
Nuon Chea is accused of being the architect of the Khmer Rouge's killing machine, playing a leading role in the deaths of some 1.7 million people during the group's 1975-79 rule.
During that period, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities, exiling millions to rural areas in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia, outlawing schools, religion and currency.
Nuon Chea surrendered to the Cambodian government in 1998 after the final remnants of the Khmer Rouge collapsed in 1998 and he was given a formal pardon.
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