A former Khmer Rouge leader found unfit to stand trial owing to medical reasons has been granted a provisional release by the United Nations-backed court in Cambodia that is trying those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a mixed court set up under a 2003 agreement signed by the UN and the Government, ruled today that Ieng Thirith be released, provided that she inform the Court of the address where she will reside and not change residence without prior authorization.
She must also surrender her passport and any other travel documents, and remain in the territory of Cambodia, as well as respond to any summons issued by the Court.
The Court stated that this is a provisional measure that will remain in effect until it decides on the merits of the appeal submitted by the Co-Prosecutors last week in which they requested that conditions be placed on Ms. Thirith's release.
Ms. Thirith, who formerly served as Social Affairs Minister for the Democratic Kampuchea – as Cambodia was known during the Khmer Rouge regime's leadership of the country – was on trial for genocide and other crimes against humanity along with her husband and former foreign minister Ieng Sary, former so-called Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, and former head of State Khieu Samphan, all leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime during the late 1970s.
Expert psychiatrists who examined Ms. Thirith last year diagnosed her with clinical dementia, most likely Alzheimer's, which would hinder her participation in court hearings. The Court, having found her unfit to stand trial, subsequently ordered her release.
Nearly two million people are thought to have died during the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979.