Khmer Rouge couple detained ahead of trial by UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia

Khmer Rouge couple detained ahead of trial by UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia

Judges at the United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes three decades ago have decided to place a former foreign minister of the South-East Asian country and his wife in provisional detention for a year while they await trial.

Ieng Sary, who was foreign minister under the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as social affairs minister under the same regime, had been arrested earlier this week. Mr. Ieng faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes while Madame Ieng Thirith is charged with crimes against humanity.

In a press statement issued today, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) said the tribunal’s co-investigating judges agreed to provisionally detain the couple after holding consecutive hearings on the issue yesterday.

The husband and wife are the third and fourth people to be charged by the ECCC’s co-investigating judges, joining Nuon Chea (aka Brother Number Two) and Kaing Guek Eav (aka Duch).

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.