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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Rouge "First Lady" in court

Khmer Rouge "First Lady" in court


Prosecutors assert that Thirith could "flee," said defense counsel Diana Ellis. "It's an interesting concept," she continued, emphasizing the word choice. "She's old and infirm."

Given Thirith's myriad physical and psychological health problems, she's hardly in a position to abscond from justice, Ellis said. Nor does she have the funds to do so, the defense counsel said, adding that her client was indigent.

Prosecutors fought the defense on every point and emphasized that releasing Thirith into the population could jeopardize social order and the defendant's personal safety.

Moreover, Thirith's freedom could interfere with evidence and witness testimony, prosecutor Vincent de Wilde said. When the judges first began their investigations, they received only two complaints against Thirith. But once she was taken into custody, hundreds began pouring in, de Wilde said.

Cambodians are still intimidated by this elderly woman -- and her influential friends, he said.

Lips pursed tightly together, Thirith shook her head at the allegations.

The defendant "has the capacity and the will ... to advocate the use of violence," de Wilde said.

Shortly after, Thirith excused herself from the proceedings during a closed portion of the arguments. Judges said she had decided to turn in because of her blood pressure.


Ieng Thirith is helped into her seat at the ECCC Wednesday (pool photos).



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