Khmer Rouge defendant in critical condition: lawyer
AFPPHNOM PENH -- A former Khmer Rouge leader on trial for genocide is in critical condition in hospital, his lawyer said Wednesday, stoking fears that top figures in the murderous regime may never face justice.
March 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Ieng Sary, who at 87 years old is the oldest defendant at Cambodia's U.N.-backed war crimes court, was hospitalized on Monday with stomach problems — the latest in a string of ailments. “His situation is critical now,” Ieng Sary's Cambodian lawyer Ang Udom told AFP.
The former French university radical, who later emerged as one of the few public faces of the Khmer Rouge during its brutal rule in the late 1970s, has difficulty eating and has been vomiting, he said.
The three most senior surviving leaders of the brutal Khmer Rouge stand accused of some of the gravest crimes in modern history for their roles in up to two million deaths during the “Killing Fields” era.
Ieng Sary, along with “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 86, and one-time head of state Khieu Samphan, 81, deny charges including war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
Health fears have long hung over the court with the octogenarian defendants all suffering a variety of ailments.
A court official declined to comment on the latest health condition of Ieng Sary, who also suffers from heart and back problems.
Led by “Brother Number One” Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork or execution in a bid to create an agrarian utopia during their rule.
Cambodia's war crimes court has so far achieved one conviction, sentencing former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people.
In another setback, the tribunal was forced to suspend the trial of the three leaders Monday because of a strike over unpaid wages.