Ex Khmer Rouge 'First Lady' loses appeal | world | Hindustan Times
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Ex Khmer Rouge 'First Lady' loses appeal

Ieng Thirith, the regime's former social affairs minister, is one of five top cadres in the sights of the UN war crimes tribunal over atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge's rule.

world Updated: Jul 09, 2008 09:34 IST

The former Khmer Rouge "First Lady" facing trial for crimes against humanity on Wednesday lost her appeal to Cambodia's UN-backed genocide court to be released from detention before her trial.

Ieng Thirith, the regime's former social affairs minister, is one of five top cadres in the sights of the UN war crimes tribunal over atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 rule.

She wore a green scarf over her blouse and took notes while chief judge Prak Kimsan read the court's decision on her appeal.

The judge told the court that it was necessary for Ieng Thirith to stay in jail as "there are well-founded reasons to believe" that she committed the crimes for which she has been charged.

"The provisional detention order is still effective," the judge said. "The court rejects the appeal."

Ieng Thirith's lawyers previously insisted the 76-year-old is mentally ill and in poor chronic health.

During her pre-trial hearing in May, she told judges she "almost forgot" how many children she had. However, court officials said doctors deemed her fit to stand trial.

It has taken three decades to start bringing senior officials of the Khmer Rouge, who left up to two million people dead from overwork, starvation, torture or execution, to trial at the joint Cambodia-UN tribunal.

The court was not established until 2006, and the trials of the regime's five surviving senior leaders are not due to begin until later this year.

The court also said it suspects Ieng Thirith is a flight risk and that her detention is necessary to protect her against possible revenge attacks from Khmer Rouge victims.

The judges also said they feared she could put pressure on witnesses.

Ieng Thirith was arrested last November along with her husband, Ieng Sary, who was the regime's foreign minister.

She has rejected the charges against her as "100 per cent false" and said that she spent time during the regime's reign repairing hospitals and producing medicines.