Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ieng Thirith needs exam




Ieng Thirith needs exam

Ieng Thirith needs exam

The mental health of Khmer Rouge Social Action Minister Ieng Thirith is in question, as her attorney said yesterday that she was having trouble remembering things and recognising people, while Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal said she required further examination.

Phat Pouv Seang, defence counsel for Ieng Thirith, who faces charges including crimes against humanity and genocide, said that his client’s state of mental health became “more serious” about a year ago.

“I was selected as her defence lawyer in 2007. At that time, my communication with her went well,” he said. “But later on the communication changed as she lost her mind a lot and it was very complicated for me to talk with her. I see my client lost her mind and cannot remember or recognise who is saying anything.”

The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Trial Chamber has scheduled hearings later this month to consider health examinations of Ieng Thirith, 79, and Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, 85, conducted by John Campbell, a geriatrician from New Zealand. Court spokesman Lars Olsen said yesterday that Campbell’s report “confirmed that further expert assessment of Ieng Thirith’s mental fitness to stand trial was needed”.
Campbell declared Foreign Minister Ieng Sary fit, while head of state Khieu Samphan never requested an exam.

Ieng Thirith’s attorneys said in a July 22 filing that they were “currently not able to take instructions” from their client.

Anne Heindel, a legal advisor at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said that “the bottom line is if you can’t instruct your counsel, then you’re not participating in your own defence. So that is the threshold of a fitness evaluation.”

While Olsen said that it was “too early to speculate” on the outcomes of fitness hearings, Heindel said the court would likely be obligated to terminate or suspend proceedings against someone deemed unfit.

“Usually, they restrict somebody to a medical facility… so they can get the treatment they need, with the idea being that they will hopefully be fit in the future,” Heindel said. “In Cambodia, we don’t have mental health facilities, so it’s unclear what they can do.”

Olsen said the Trial Chamber would appoint psychiatric experts to examine Ieng Thirith and would schedule an additional hearing to consider the examination.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA

MOST VIEWED

  • Thailand offers Covid-19 funding

    The Royal Embassy of Thailand contributed two million baht ($62,765) to Cambodia’s fight against Covid-19 on Wednesday, as the countries celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations. The donation was presented by Thailand’s Ambassador to Cambodia Panyarak Poolthup to Prime Minister Hun Sen at a meeting

  • Crowded prisons will set free 10,000 inmates

    Close to 10,000 prisoners will be freed as part of the country’s prison overcrowding campaign, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng announced on Wednesday. The bulk of the inmates have mostly served their sentences and will continue to be monitored by local authorities after their release

  • Sanctuary head sued for not stopping forest occupations

    Four Bunong and an Adhoc official filed a joint lawsuit against Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary head Prum Vibol Ratanak at the Mondulkiri Provincial Court for failing to stop illegal land occupation and the buying and selling of forest land. Vibol Ratanak denies the allegations against

  • US and Cambodia talk cybersecurity ongoing assistance

    US Ambassador Patrick Murphy met with Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday to discuss bilateral collaboration including on issues of civil society organisations and democracy in Cambodia. But cybercrime seemed to be the prevailing topic at the meeting. Murphy posted on Twitter: “Productive meeting

  • UN: Don’t let patent rows hamper virus vaccine

    The UN patent agency has hailed the push to create a coronavirus vaccine and make it globally available but warned against allowing copyright rows to overshadow and delay the process. “What we need in the first place here is innovation,” said Francis Gurry, the head

  • ‘Be vigilant on human trafficking’

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday urged provincial authorities along the border to remain vigilant against the transportation of Cambodian migrant workers into Thailand. Speaking during an annual meeting of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), he said despite the closure of the