Khmer Rouge accused’s release appealed

2011-11-18 18:00

Phnom Penh - Prosecutors at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal on Friday appealed against a decision to free the regime's former "First Lady" after she was deemed unfit for trial for having dementia.

Judges on Thursday ordered Ieng Thirith, the only female leader charged by the UN-backed court, to be released after medical experts said she suffers from memory loss and most likely has Alzheimer's disease.

"We have appealed her immediate release," international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley told AFP.

The ruling on the 79-year-old's fitness came just days before the tribunal was to hear opening statements in her long-awaited trial alongside three co-accused.

War crimes, genocide charges

Judges said the former social affairs minister would now not have to answer to charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity next week over the deaths of up to two million people during the movement's 1975-1979 reign.

Ieng Thirith will remain locked up while the Supreme Court Chamber ponders the appeal.

She has been held along with her husband and former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary and two other top regime leaders - "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan - at a purpose-built detention centre since 2007. All face and deny the same charges.

Questions have long been raised over the mental state of the regime's "First Lady", who famously lost her cool during a 2009 court appearance, telling her accusers they would be "cursed to the seventh circle of hell".

Trial chamber judges said in a statement on Thursday that the "continued detention of an accused who lacks capacity to understand proceedings against her... would not serve the interests of justice."

But while they agreed about her mental health affliction, they were split about what to do with Ieng Thirith after staying the proceedings against her, their decision showed.

Victim unhappy


Cambodian judges suggested she should be hospitalised for six months before re-assessing her fitness, while international judges said there was no legal basis to keep her locked up. In the absence of an agreement, international law prevailed.

In their appeal document, prosecutors said judges had failed to exhaust all possible options to improve the suspect's condition.

"The decision should be amended to require the accused to remain in detention and undergo medical and other remedial treatment, subject to a review in six months," it read.

Freeing Ieng Thirith would likely cause a stir in Cambodia, where many victims are still haunted by the horrors of the regime.

"As a victim... I am not happy, I cannot accept the release order," said Bou Meng, 70, one of the few people to survive a notorious torture prison in the Cambodian capital.

¼ of population wiped out


Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population through starvation, overwork and execution in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.

As social affairs minister, Paris-educated Ieng Thirith, who was also Pol Pot's sister-in-law, is believed to have been involved in some of the hard line communist movement's most drastic policies.

In the court's historic first trial, former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was sentenced to 30 years in jail last year for overseeing the deaths of some 15 000 people. His case is under appeal with a ruling expected on February 3.

Amid fears that not all of the elderly accused in the long-awaited second trial will live to see a verdict, the court last month divided their complex case into a series of smaller trials to speed up proceedings.

- SAPA

Read more on:    cambodia  |  war crimes
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.