Former Khmer Rouge government minister to appeal her detention by Cambodian tribunal
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A former Khmer Rouge government minister facing charges of crimes against humanity will appeal for release from detention during a U.N. assisted tribunal, a spokesman said Tuesday.
The tribunal, seeks justice for atrocities committed by the ultra-communist group when it ruled Cambodia in 1975-79.
Ieng Thirith, who was the Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, is among five suspects facing trial for their alleged roles in the regime's brutality. Its radical policies caused the deaths of about 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution. Reach Sambath, a tribunal spokesman, said the 75-year-old Ieng Thirith will appeal at a hearing Wednesday for release from a detention facility during the proceedings. The lawyer cited lack of evidence for detaining Ieng Thirith and said she «suffers from a number of debilitating and chronic conditions, both mental and physical» that require constant medical treatment.
The suspect is the wife of Ieng Sary, who was the regime's deputy prime minister and foreign minister and is also detained on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.Ieng Thirith is also the sister-in-law of to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998.In a detention orders issued in November, the tribunal's investigating judges said Ieng Thirith is being tried for supporting Khmer Rouge policies and practices that were «characterized by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhuman acts.
She has rejected the charges against her as «100 percent false,» according to the detention order.She has denied responsibility for any criminal acts and said she worked at all times for the benefit of the people, according to an appeal filed in January by her lawyer, Phat Pouv Seang.Ieng Thirith, who was among the first generation of female Cambodian intellectuals, studied English literature in Paris and worked as a professor after returning to Cambodia in 1957. Three years later she founded a private English school in the capital, Phnom Penh.She followed her husband into the jungle to flee government repression in 1965. Their communist movement later became a guerrilla force that toppled the pro-American government in 1975, putting Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge into power and turning the country in a vast slave labor camp.