Khmer Rouge minister seeks bail in crimes against humanity trial

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The former foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge regime faced court in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh yesterday, seeking bail ahead of his trial for crimes against humanity.

Looking frail, 82-year-old Ieng Sary, who is one of five senior architects of the ultra-Maoist regime currently in detention, said little to the packed courtroom.

His lawyer, Michael Karnavas, said that his client's physical and mental health required proper assessment to determine his ability to stand trial and that, in the meantime, he be allowed to stay at home or in hospital. The hearing was later adjourned when Ieng's lawyers said he was unable to continue.

Educated in Paris in the 1950s, Ieng was once known as the international "smiling face" of the notorious regime, which is held accountable for the deaths an estimated 1.7 million people who died from disease, starvation, forced labour and execution between 1975 and 1979.

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