11/19/2007, 00.00
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Khieu Samphan, former Maoist president of Cambodia, arrested

He is the fifth member of Pol Pot’s inner circle to be arrested by the UN tribunal on the “killing fields”. Charges against him remain unclear, as he denies all involvement in the communist massacre.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia arrested the former Khmer Rouge head of state Monday following his release from a hospital in the capital that he checked into after suffering a stroke. Samphan was the fifth senior Khmer Rouge official to be detained by the UN tribunal on the “killing fields”.

The 76 year-old war chief, was taken from the hospital to his home in the former Khmer Rogue stronghold in Pailin, on the border with Thailand. "Khieu Samphan, the former head of state of Democratic Kampuchea, was arrested," said tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath, referring to the official name of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. 

Khieu Samphan, a close collaborator of Pol Pot has denied all knowledge of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. During that period it is estimated that upwards of 1.7 million people were executed and tortured to death, others dying from starvation and disease widespread under the ultra-Maoist revolutionary regime.

It was not immediately clear what charges Khieu Samphan will face. He was expected to appear before investigating judges later in the day. In the meantime Samphan has appointed his defence lawyer: French attorney Jacques Verges, who throughout his career has defended various figures accused of terrorism as well as a Nazi leader.

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