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Nuon Chea’s health forces adjournment

The Khmer Rouge tribunal adjourned early yesterday when the court ran out of material to present in the absence of Nuon Chea, who was admitted to the hospital once again on Saturday, just two days after being discharged.

According to spokesman Lars Olsen, the former Khmer Rouge second-in-command was hospitalised due to weakness and fatigue stemming from low- blood pressure and had not waived his right to be present for the hearing of witnesses or documents pertaining to his case.

However, Olsen noted, “his condition is improving”.

Nuon Chea co-counsel Son Arun, on the other hand, maintained his client had never recovered from his previous ailment.

“He is the same.  I do not know what happened when the doctor let him out from the hospital,” he said, adding that his client still had difficulty breathing.

“Thursday, when the doctor let him out from the hospital, he still felt bad.  So he’s not better; still the same.”

Arun said hearings would resume on Thursday when a civil party – for whom Nuon Chea will waive his right to be present – is scheduled to testify.

The court spent much of its morning session discussing documents related to co-defendants Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan.  

According to a passage read in court, an excerpt from  a book by Khieu Samphan, the forced labour that occurred under the Khmer Rouge was “necessary”.

The revolution had been essential in order to advance development, the passage read, “but to reach those goals, since the country had just emerged from a war of destruction and was facing starvation and death, we had to overcome [these problems]. Therefore, some coercion was necessary for a while, coercion to work… both for those who were used to it, and those who were not.”

The French government yesterday announced that it would increase its funding to the perennially cash-strapped court by nearly 70 per cent to €500,000 ($673,500) for 2013.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at
With assistance from Claire Slattery



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