The Khmer Rouge Trial in September 2012
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The Khmer Rouge Trial in September 2012

The most important news from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia this month was, without doubt, the release of Ieng Thirith, 80, known also as the First Lady of the Khmer Rouge Regime. The ruling on 16 September found Thirith unfit to stand trial and released her from provisional detention. The Pol Pot’s sister-in-law and Ieng Sary’s wife must inform the Chamber of the address where she will reside, asking permission for any move, remaining in the Cambodian territory and attending any summon by the Court. Short after her release, prosecutors appealed the decision on the unconditional release condition ruled by the judges.

According to different health reports that the Court used for its decision, Thirith suffers probably from Alzheimer and it would make her unable to understand or participate in the course of the process, going against her human rights if she remains under retention, concluded the judges. The children waited for her mother outside the Chambers and brought her to an unknown place in the capital, however charges for crimes against humanity, Grave Breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and genocide still at place against the defendant. Her husband, also defendant Ieng Sary, 86, is also in a delicate state of health, creating a sense of impatience in those who wait that justice will be brought to the historical blood regime, as the processes seem to be too slow for the elderly top leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Sary has been admitted to the hospital since 7 September for dizziness for blood flow lack to the brain and he remains at the moment in the health center.

Ieng Thirith, whose original name is Khieu Thirith, is the wife of Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs Ieng Sary and the sister of Khieu Ponnary, the first wife of Saloth Sar alias Pol Pot, who divorced her in 1979. Ponnary died in 2003 at the house of Thirith in Pailin, one of the last fortress of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas. The first wife of Pol Pot suffered chronic schizophrenia since the very year of the Khmer Rouge taking power in Cambodia in 1975.

The Court ordered that Thirith must not contact witnesses, victims, the media or other defendants, with the exception of her husband Ieng Sary.  Experts like legal adviser for the Documentation Center of Cambodia Anne Heindel said to the media that although the decision is correct, it might be explained correctly to the public.

Norway contributed with 1 million US dollars to the Court

The government of Norway made a substantial contribution to the ECCC or Khmer Rouge Trial this month with about 1 million US dollars to continue the prosecutions of three Khmer Rouge Regime top leaders: former Chairman of the regimen Nuon Chea, former Head of State Khieu Samphan and former Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs Ieng Sary.

In total, Norway has contributed 5 million US dollars to the Court since it was established. Other contributions have come from the European Union, Australia, India, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Japan, United States and others.

The Tribunal suffers a current funding shortfall, according to Kranh Tony, acting director of the office administration, and Rejee Kumra, officer in charge in a joint statement where they thanked the government of Norway for its contribution. According to the ECCC Financial report, the Chambers have spent an estimated of 230.7 million US dollars between 2006 and 2013 included.

The Court ordered declassification of more than 1,700 confidential documents

It is well know that the Khmer Rouge Regime (1975 – 1979) operated in a high level of secrecy that made Cambodia a closed country for the international community. Even those working in the Party were forbidden to investigate or know more than what they could know. Information was a key to dead in the Kampuchea Democratic daily life (or daily death.) This month the Tribunal for the Khmer Rouge ordered that 1,749 documents in Case 001 can go to the public. Records include Democratic Kampuchea documents of forced confessions of victims, biographies, witness statements of in camera hearings and plea letters.

To order this declassification, the Chamber has reviewed more than 12 thousand confidential documents and took the decision by following the Tribunal guidelines that seeks to fulfill the condition of transparency and to honor the victims of the violent regime.

‘In this regard, it has considered that wide dissemination of material concerning the Court’s proceedings would support the ECCC’s mandate to contribute to national reconciliation and provide documentary support to the progressive quest for historical truth,’ says the written statement.

The rest of the classified documents are currently placed in cases 002, 003 and 004, therefore they will remain confidential until those cases are over, explains the Court.