Pre-Trial Chamber finds that 1979 trial in absentia and royal amnesty do not bar prosecution against Ieng Sary

In a reasoned decision rendered on 11 April 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) found that neither the in absentia conviction of Ieng Sary by the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal in 1979 nor the Royal Amnesty granted to him in 1996, bar the current prosecution of  Ieng Sary before the ECCC.

Ieng Sary held the position of Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of Foreign Affairs during the regime of Democratic Kampuchea and he was also a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. He was indicted by an order of the Co-Investigating Judges on 15 September 2010 on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and greave breaches of the 1949 Geneva conventions, as well as murder, torture and religious prosecution under the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code. Mr. Ieng filed an appeal against the indictment to the Pre Trial-Chamber challenging the ECCC’s jurisdiction to prosecute him. 

Ieng Sary and Pol Pot were tried and sentenced in absentia to death for genocide and other crimes by the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal in a judgment rendered on 19 August 1979. In his appeal against the indictment, Mr. Ieng alleged that this conviction would bar the current prosecution of him before the ECCC under the legal principle of ne bis in idem, which protects defendants against being tried twice for the same act.

In a Royal Decree proclaimed on 14 September 1996 Ieng Sary was granted an amnesty from the death sentence and the order to confiscate all his property issued by the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal in 1979. Furthermore, Mr. Ieng was also granted amnesty from prosecution under a law passed in 1994 that outlawed members of the Khmer Rouge (the “Democratic Kampuchea” group). In his appeal against the indictment, Ieng Sary alleged that the amnesty granted to him would bar the current prosecution before the ECCC.

Read the whole decision:

Photo on top: The People`s Revolutionary Tribunal in Phnom Penh in 1979 
Photo source: Documentation Centre of Cambodia

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