Tag Archives: Ieng Thirith

200 Khmer Rouge Tribunal Workers Strike for Unpaid Wages

Khmer Rouge Legacy

Khmer Rouge Legacy (Photo credit: NewportPreacher)

Nearly 200 Cambodian workers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have gone on strike to protest unpaid salaries.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are due to file closing submissions for the trial’s first phase by September 19, with oral arguments to begin October 16. A prolonged strike could hold up translation and administrative work and delay this timetable.

Cambodian authorities – technically obliged to bankroll the court’s domestic arm – have largely relied on foreign donors to pay the bill, while the U.N. is responsible for up keeping the court’s international arm.

The Khmer Rouge, a radical Marxist movement, came to power in Cambodia in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and sought to create an agricultural utopia in the Southeast Asian nation. The Communist group killed educated citizens and forced urban residents to move to rural collectives, failed spectacularly. About one-quarter of the country’s population perished from starvation, disease, overwork and executions.

The proceedings against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan is the tribunal’s second trial, which has already lost two of its original four defendants since it started in 2011. Ieng Sary, foreign minister during the Khmer Rouge regime, died at age 87 in March. His wife, Ieng Thirith, the regime’s social affairs minister now aged 81, was released last year after being deemed unfit to stand trial due to severe dementia. Trial observers and victims groups fear that Nuon and Khieu could die before their trial is completed.

The tribunal’s only conviction occurred in 2010, when former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was found guilty of crimes against humanity relating to the torture and deaths of about 15,000 people. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge officer, has opposed further indictments.

Via WSJ.

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“Unfit” Khmer Rouge First Lady to Stay in Detention

30 Aug 2011: Ieng Thirith during the second da...

Image via Wikipedia

On Tuesday, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) ordered that Ieng Thirith, a Khmer Rouge defendant ruled unfit to stand trial, will stay detained to see if her mental condition improves.

The supreme court chamber reversed a lower chamber ruling that would have freed the seventy-nine-year-old whose doctors concluded has Alzheimer’s disease. Prosecutors appealed against her release. Ms. Ieng is facing charges for her role as the social affairs minister during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime.

The ruling came during the second week of testimony in the trial of three former Khmer Rouge senior officials. On trial is Ms. Ieng’s husband, Ieng Sary, who was the Khmer Rouge foreign minister.

The ECCC is seeking justice for two million people who died of execution, lack of medical care, or starvation under the Khmer Rouge. The defendants are charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, homicide, religious persecution, and torture. All have pleaded innocent. Ms. Ieng claims to have always worked for the benefit of the people.

Ms. Ieng will remain in the ECCC’s detention center until she can be detained at a place to undergo medical treatment. After six months of treatment, she will undergo another examination so the Trial Chamber can make a new assessment of her fitness to stand trial.

Ms. Ieng is the sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998.

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Khmer Rouge Leader Says Crimes Were to Prevent Vietnamese Takeover of Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge revolution in the 1970s was aimed at freeing Cambodia from colonialism and protecting it from invasion by Vietnam, the party’s ideologue, Nuon Chea, said on Tuesday, opening his defense against a charge of genocide.

The testimony marked the first time a leader of the Khmer Rouge defended the motives of the regime since the U.N.-backed court started to try cases last year. The bloody “Killing Fields” revolution wiped out a quarter of the population from 1975-1979.

Former President Khieu Samphan, ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea are charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

Nuon Chea, the first defendant to take the stand, denied all the charges. “My position in the revolution was to serve the interests of the nation and people,” he said. He added:

Oppression, injustice compelled me to devote myself to fight for my country. I had to leave my family behind to liberate my motherland from colonialism and aggression, and oppression by the thieves who wished to steal our land and wipe Cambodia off the face of the earth.

Vietnam wanted to “swallow” Cambodia, Nuon Chea said.

The army of the communist party of Vietnam and Vietnam cadres still remain discreetly on Cambodian soil … with the ambition of occupying, swallowing Cambodia and getting rid of Cambodia, of her race and ethnicity, bringing in Vietnamese immigrants illegally to live in Cambodia to this day.

Prosecutors say as many as 2.2 million people were killed under the Khmer Rouge, which was forced from power when Vietnam invaded in 1979. Remnants of the Khmer Rouge fought on until the 1990s.

Pol Pot, the French-educated architect of the “Year Zero” revolution, died in 1998.

A fourth defendant, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, was declared unfit for trial last week. She remains in detention pending an appeal by prosecutors.

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Prosecutors Appeal Medical Release of Khmer Rouge “First Lady”

Trial Chamber 31 January 2011

Image by Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via Flickr

Prosecutors at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal on Friday appealed against a decision to free the regime’s former “First Lady” after she was deemed unfit for trial.

Judges on Thursday ordered Ieng Thirith 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 seventy-nine-year-old’s fitness came just days before the tribunal was to hear opening statements in her long-awaited trial.

The former social affairs minister is facing charges of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity over the deaths of two million people during the movement’s reign.

Ieng Thirith will remain locked up while the Supreme Court ponders the appeal. She has been held along with her husband and former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary and two other top regime leaders.

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 the prosecutor he would be “cursed to the seventh circle of hell”.

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

While they agreed about her mental health affliction, they were split about what to do with Ieng Thirith after staying the proceedings against her. 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.

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

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork, and execution trying to create an agrarian utopia.

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

In the court’s first trial, prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was sentenced to thirty years in jail for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people. His case is under appeal.

Amid fears that not all 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.

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Khmer Rouge “First Lady” Deemed Unfit for Trial

Trial Chamber 31 Jan 2011

Image by Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via Flickr

Cambodia‘s U.N.-backed tribunal on Thursday ruled a former senior Khmer Rouge leader unfit to stand trial for genocide and other crimes because she has Alzheimer’s.

The tribunal said the illness diminishes Ieng Thirith‘s mental capacity and ordered the seventy-nine-year-old defendant freed. She behaved erratically at earlier court appearances, and her lawyers had requested the medical exams.

Tribunal official Lars Olsen said Ieng Thirith would be freed from the tribunal’s detention facility within twenty-four hours of the ruling if prosecutors do not appeal.

The ruling came four days before the start of her trial with three co-defendants, one of whom is her husband, Ieng Sary, foreign minister in the late 1970s Khmer Rouge regime. He informed the tribunal last month that he intends to exercise his right not to testify.

Ieng Thirith was minister for social affairs and is accused of “planning, direction, coordination and ordering of widespread purges” and has been charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, homicide, torture and religious persecution.

The U.N.-backed tribunal is seeking justice for 1.7 million people who died of starvation, exhaustion, lack of medical care, or execution during the Khmer Rouge’s rule.

Ieng Thirith has said the charges against her are “100 percent false.” Mrs. Ieng is the sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998. Pol Pot married Ieng Thirith’s sister, Khieu Ponnary, who died in 2003.

The other defendants were also part of the ruling inner circle: head of state Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, who was second in command to Pol Pot and the group’s chief ideologist. The three remaining defendants assert they are innocent.

The trial may be Cambodia’s best chance to hold accountable the accused architects of the “killing fields” and the enslavement of millions of Cambodians.

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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Completes Assessment of Defendants

A sign at the Killing Fields outside Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. Photo by Lindsay.

On Wednesday, a hearing held by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia ended after an expert spoke about the health of defendants Ieng Thirth and Nuon Chea.

Professor John Campbell, a geriatrician from New Zealand, said Ieng, the former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, is suffering from progressive dementia, most likely due to Alzheimer’s.

The court will soon conduct a supplemental assessment of Ieng’s mental health.

Campbell did not find Nuon unfit to stand trial, but the former deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea demanded a reassessment nonetheless.

The two will stand trial along with Ieng Sary (Ieng Thirith‘s husband), who was the Khmer Rouge foreign minister, and Khieu Samphan, who was the head of state of Democratic Kampuchea.

Via RNW.

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Khmer Rouge First Lady Has Dementia

Photographed and uploaded to English Wikipedia...

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On Monday, a health expert told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) that Ieng Thirith, the only female Khmer Rouge leader on trial before the U.N.-backed court, is suffering from dementia and memory loss. The 79-year-old is facing charges over the deaths of up to two million people during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 regime.

The court-appointed geriatrics expert told judges that Ieng, the sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, had memory problems and needed further assessment.

Ieng’s trial alongside three other senior Khmer Rouge officials on charges including crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes officially opened in June.

Ieng, the regime’s “First Lady,” famously lost her cool during a 2009 court appearance, telling prosecutors they would be “cursed to the seventh circle of hell.”

In July, Ieng’s lawyers said they were unable to take instructions from her.

In the first trial before the ECCC, the court sentenced former prison chief Duch to thirty years in jail for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people.

Via RNW.

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Khmer Rouge Senior Officials Will Be Tried in June

The Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo by Lindsay.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has set June 27, 2011 as the start date for the trial of 4 top Khmer Rouge leaders charged with genocide and other crimes committed during the 1970s.

The defendants are Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, foreign minister Ieng Sary, social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, and head of state Khieu Samphan. The four are the senior-most surviving members of the hardline communist movement.

They face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the deaths of two million people from execution, overwork, and starvation during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 rule. They also face genocide charges specifically related to the deaths of the ethnic Cham Muslim and Vietnamese people in Cambodia at the time.

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Khmer Rouge Leaders To Face Trial

Tuol Sleng Prison (also known as S-21) in Phnom Penh, where 14,000 people were imprisoned, tortured, and killed under the Khmer Rouge. (Photo by Lindsay.)

The United Nations-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has dismissed defendants’ appeals and the upheld indictments against the four former Khmer Rouge leaders facing trial.

The four defendants are the highest-ranking Khmer Rouge leaders alive. They are “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Khieu Samphan.

The four face charges of crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes for their actions in the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime. During the Khmer Rouge rule, about two million Cambodians, or one-quarter of the population, died.

The Trial Chamber will decide the date of the trial against the four Khmer Rouge leaders.

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