KR ‘First Lady’ not freed on bail
The Mekong Times
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The ex-Khmer Rouge (KR) "First Lady" Ieng Thirith will not be walking free - for now at least - as she has lost her appeal against pre-trial detention at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT), where she has been held since her arrest in November last year.
At the announcement of the KRT Pre-Trial Chamber(PTC)'s decision yesterday, the notorious Ieng Thirith, charged with crimes against humanity, wore the time-honored clothes of a respectable Khmer woman - white blouse, krama and traditional patterned skirt - although this would have been seen as decadently riotous in the KR era, with its iconic black-pajamaed cadre.
In the KR's Democratic Kampuchea (DK) of 1975-79, Ieng Thirith was minister of social affairs, the wife of KR Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and the regime's most powerful woman. Her late older sister Khieu Ponnary, who was the wife of KR supreme leader Pol Pot, was going insane by the time of the DK era,
which ensured Ieng Thirith's infamous position as KR "First Lady."
At Ieng Thirith's appeal hearing against pre-trial detention on May 21, her co-defense lawyers claimed there is no direct evidence she is guilty of crimes against humanity. They also said Ieng Thirith is too unhealthy and too impoverished to flee the country — they had previously claimed she is mentally ill.
The prosecution claimed that, as a
member of the KR elite for decades, she influenced, encouraged and fully took part in KR crimes against humanity. They said Ieng Thirith still enjoys "substantial prestige and popularity in the former KR bastion of Pailin," with her son being Pailin deputy governor, which would enable her to put pressure on witnesses and perhaps destroy evidence.
Last week at her husband Ieng Sary's bail hearing, the prosecution claimed that, as well as owning a large villa in Phnom Penh, the Iengs have major holdings in a company in Malai in Ban-teay Meanchey province, giving them ample means to flee the country, and that they were well accustomed to trav
eling outside of Cambodia.
"The appeal is dismissed," said PTC President Prak Kimsan yesterday at the announcement of the decision on the appeal, adding that the decision was unanimous and not subject to appeal. "There are well-founded reasons that Ieng Thirith may have committed the crimes against humanity, murder, extermination, persecution and others ... Provisional detention is still a necessary measure," he said, adding that during the DK era, Ieng Thirith exercised full control over the Ministry of Social Affairs, which she has admitted, and so was responsible for the well-being of the general population. He said that, in her position of authority, she may have
instigated, failed to prevent and otherwise aided KR policies.
International Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit told reporters after the announcement that the decision on each appeal against pre-trial detention is made on a case-by-case basis, and so yesterday's decision was not necessarily an indication of future ones.
"We are talking about the gravest of crimes, [so her] continued detention is necessary," he said.
KRT Public Affairs Officer Helen Jar-vis said Ieng Thirith's co-defense lawyer, Phat Pouv Seang, needed time to study the PTC report before he would speak with the press, and last night he was too busy to speak with a reporter.
Ieng Thirith now joins ex-KR "Broth- er No.2" Nuon Chea and former Tuol Sleng torture and execution center chief Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, as definitely remaining in pre-trial deten¬tion until their trials. Decisions on the bail appeals of the other two former KR leaders who have so far been charged by the KRT - Ieng Sary and former DK Head of State Khieu Samphan - are still pending.
KRT officials said yesterday they expect the actual trials to begin in September, and that the first trial will be Duch's.
Extracted from the Mekong Times
Issue No. 108
Thursday, July 10, 2008