Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Experts contest Ieng Thirith's fitness to stand trial

Experts contest Ieng Thirith's fitness to stand trial

Experts contest Ieng Thirith's fitness to stand trial

Court appointed experts at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have found Ieng Thirith’s mental health has not improved and has shown signs of deterioration since judges ordered experimental medical treatment last year to improve her cognitive abilities.

A panel of three experts told the Trial Chamber that the former Khmer Rouge Minister for Social Action, who was not present in the courtroom through proceedings, has not responded well to the treatment administered over the course of 2012.

“We felt there was no evidence of any improvement,” British doctor Seena Fazel said. “We actually felt there was a deterioration over this period of time.

“The deterioration was quite clearly seen in decreasing scores in standardized tests and various other behavioral symptoms,” Fazel said, adding that the three court-appointed experts were unanimous in their conclusions and felt that they had exhausted all treatment options.

In November last year Trial Chamber judges found the Case 002 suspect was unfit to stand trial and ordered her immediate release from detention.

On appeal, the Supreme Court Chamber overturned this decision and directed the Trial Chamber judges to request additional medical treatment to try and improve the former Khmer Rouge “first lady’s” fitness to stand trial.

However, Ieng Thirith’s treating psychiatrist, Cambodian professer Chak Thida had an entirely different conclusion on the genocide suspect’s mental fitness.

“I have not found any sign of mental illness in Ms Ieng Thirith,” Thida told the court. “Although she has experienced some loss in memory.”

The Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital general psychiatry deputy director told the court that as a Cambodian female, she had worked on fostering a close relationship with Ieng Thirith in order to maximise her responsiveness to tests.

Thida gave an example of the effectiveness of her strategy when she was in in a joint testing situation with New Zealand geriatrician John Campbell, one of the court-appointed experts.

“Mr Campbell handed Ieng Thirith a pen and asked her whether she recognised the pen and knew how to use it and she said she did not know what it was,” Thida recounted. “Five minutes later, I held the same pen and I told her that I saw her use a pen before to write French, and I asked her whether she wrote English too and then she took the pen and wrote 'I go to school'”.

Hearings continue today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,

  • Gov’t continues China tilt as ties with the US slide on ‘interference’ in Kingdom’s internal affairs

    CHINA has granted some $131 million in aid to the Cambodian military. It comes as yet another sign that the Kingdom is strengthening strategic ties with its Asian neighbour to counter increasingly cold relations with the United States. The aid was announced as part of a