09/17/2012, 00.00
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UN tribunal frees Pol Pot's in law on health grounds

The War Crimes Tribunal says, Ieng Thirit, Minister of Social Affairs under the regime, is too ill to stand trial. For over a year the woman is suffering from Alzheimer's. The former First Lady of the Khmer Rouge regime will live in semi-freedom. The dismay of survivors and relatives of victims of the notorious Maoist dictatorship.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN tribunal for war crimes in Cambodia, said Ieng Thirit, sister in law of the dictator Pol Pot, can not stand trial on health grounds. The woman, 80, was released yesterday, but had to surrender her passport and identity card to the authorities. Thirit suffers from a degenerative disease similar to Alzheimer's. According to the court she is not fit to stand trial and will live in semi freedom.

Sister of Khieu Ponnary, wife of Pol Pot, Ieng Thirt along with her husband Ieng Sary was one of the leaders of the ultra-Maoist regime which from 1975 to 1979 killed over two million people, about a quarter of the Cambodian population. Minister for Social Affairs during the regime, Thirit is one of the few defendants in the trial for the heinous crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. The woman is accused of genocide, torture and crimes against humanity.

The news of her release has sparked dismay among the families of the victims and the few survivors of the extermination camps and the mass killing of the regime. "I can not oppose the judgment of the court - says Bau Meng, 71, a former inmate of the Tuol Sleng prison, the infamous S 21 - but it is now more difficult to get justice from this court."

Arrested in 2007 with her husband Thirit supported Pol Pot until his death in 1997. In recent years the former Khmer Rogue member denied any involvement in the atrocities committed during the regime and always refused to cooperate with the Tribunal. To date, the only one who has admitted his guilt is Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Comrade Duch". The 'former commander of Tuol Sleng prison was sentenced Aug. 18, 2012. A second trial against three other Khmer Rouge leaders is underway: Nuon Chea, known by the nickname of "Brother Number Two", Khieu Samphan, former head of state of Democratic Kampuchea, Ieng Sary, former foreign minister of the regime.

In recent years, many have criticized the UN Tribunal of corruption and inefficiency. Its investigations have targeted - in part - only the symbols of the regime but have not ensured true justice to the Cambodian people. Pol Pot died in 1998 due to illness and never stood trial nor charges for atrocities committed under his command. In addition, many of the old second ranking officials of the Maoist movement are still free and in many cases also hold important roles of government.



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See also
Khieu Samphan, chief of the Khmer Rouge, accused of genocide
Cambodia puts Khmer Rouge on trial. First defendant is "Comrade Duch"
Khmer Rouge leader denies accusations, calls to be set free because of "lack of proof"
Phnom Penh, the UN court confirms life sentence for two former Khmer Rouge leaders
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