The Suprime Court Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday ordered the imposition of a number of conditions on the release of dementia-stricken former social action minister Ieng Thirith, overturning a September ruling that the court had no legal basis to impose “coercive conditions” on her release.
According to the court’s announcement, Thirith — who was originally found unfit to stand trial in 2011, and released from custody in September after a battery of tests and treatments — must remain in Cambodia, notify the court of any change in address, undergo medical check-ups every six months and submit to monthly visits from judicial police who will confirm her place of residence and report on any threats to the 80-year-old’s security.
The chamber rejected other measures called for by the prosecution, including holding Thirith’s passport and identification card.
At an appeal hearing last month, deputy co-prosecutor Song Chorvoin argued that the conditions struck “a reasonable balance between the interest of the victims and the prosecution to see justice done, and the need to limit restrictions on Ieng Thirith’s liberty”.
Thirith co-counsel Diana Ellis told at the same hearing that, given her disease, Thirith was mentally incapable of understanding the condit-ions, and that it was therefore “repugnant” to impose such strictures, adding that “a court is brought into disrepute” by such actions.
Ellis could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Clair Duffy, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, said the decis-ion was well-reasoned from a legal standpoint, but she had concerns over the stipulations concerning medical examinations.
“I agree that the court does retain jurisdiction over Ieng Thirith, because the indictment against her has never been withdrawn or terminated. But I don’t understand the reasoning behind subjecting her to medical exams every six months when the evidence is unequivocal that she has dementia and that her condition has worsened significantly over the last 12 months,” Duffy said.
“I would have understood more if the order to the Trial Chamber was to continue to review whether there was progress in medical science around dementia, but I don’t understand what would be achieved by subjecting her to medical exams every six months.”