[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Cambodia rules Pol Pot's deputy fit for trial

Tribunal rules that surviving Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, 86, fit to stand trial for war crimes despite poor health.

Last Modified: 29 Mar 2013 06:46
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population between 1975-79 [EPA]

Cambodia's war crimes court has ruled out that Pol Pot's former deputy Nuon Chea was fit to continue standing trial after
the death of a co-defendant renewed fears that the elderly accused may not live to see verdicts.

"The accused Nuon Chea is fit to stand trial," Judge Nil Nonn said at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge war crimes court on Friday after speaking with medical experts.

Despite the defendant's "advancing age and frailty", he said, he "remains capable of meaningful participation in his own defence".

Nuon Chea, 86, the most senior surviving leader of the murderous communist regime which oversaw the "Killing Fields" era in the late 1970s, did not attend the hearing due to poor health, a clerk told the court.

He is on trial with former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, 81, over war crimes and genocide charges.

They include the forced movement of people - a policy of the brutal regime which emptied Cambodia's cities - and the execution of up to 3,000 former military officers found in mass graves in western Cambodia.

The pair deny charges.

Agrarian utopia

The death on March 14 of regime co-founder Ieng Sary at the age of 87 intensified fears that the surviving pair may also die before verdicts can be reached in their trial, which began in June 2011.

Ieng Sary's widow Ieng Thirith, the regime's former social affairs minister, was freed in September after being deemed unfit for trial due to dementia.

Nuon Chea has suffered a number of illnesses, including high blood pressure, acute bronchitis and heart disease, prompting his defence team to argue that their client was too weak to stand trial.

The tribunal has been dogged by funding shortages since it was set up in 2006 and was hit by a strike by local staff earlier this month over unpaid wages.

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge from 1975-79 wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork or execution in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.

352

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeeras new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.