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Khmer Rouge figure unfit to stand trial

  |   Sept. 17, 2012 at 1:53 AM
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Cambodia's U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal found Ieng Thirith, a minister in the Khmer Rouge regime, unfit to stand trial and gave her a provisional release.

The tribunal in Phnom Penh, trying Khmer Rouge officials accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, said Sunday Ieng Thirith, 80, wife for Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, had been granted her freedom because of her medical condition, the United Nations said in a release. The tribunal, called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was set up under a 2003 agreement signed by the United Nations and the Cambodian government.

The tribunal said conditions for Ieng Thirith's release would require her to let tribunal authorities know her address, which she cannot change without authorization. She also would be required to surrender her passport and other travel documents, stay within Cambodia and obey any summons issued.

The tribunal said her provisional release would remain in effect until it rules on an appeal from co-prosecutors.

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister in the Khmer Rouge government in the late 1970s, had been on trial for genocide and other crimes against humanity. Others facing similar charges are her husband, former so-called Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, and Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan.

The report said psychiatrists who examined Ieng Thirith last year found she has clinical dementia, not excluding Alzheimer's, which would hinder her participation in court hearings.

About 2 million people were feared to have died during the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979.

Pol Pot, one of the most notorious of the Khmer Rouge leaders, died in 1998. Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary have denied the charges against them. Ieng Thirith also had denied the charges against her.

In the only conviction so far of a Khmer Rouge leader, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who had been the prison chief, is serving a life sentence.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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