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Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Curse you to seventh circle of hell' - Khmer Rogue

'Curse you to seventh circle of hell'
Khmer Rouge 'First Lady' lashes out at UN tribunal
Feb 25 2009

PHNOM PENH: - Pol Pot's sister-in-law launched an angry tirade at Cambodia's United Nations-backed genocide tribunal yesterday, telling her accusers they would be 'cursed to the seventh circle of hell'.

Ieng Thirith, 76, the ultra-Maoist movement's social minister now charged with crimes against humanity, erupted at the prosecution's suggestion that she was aware of atrocities at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison during the Khmer Rouge rule from 1975 to 1979.

'Don't accuse me of being a murderer, otherwise you will cursed to the seventh circle of hell,' Ieng Thirith, whose sister Khieu Ponnary was married to Pol Pot. said in an 15-minute outburst. 'I don't know why a good person is accused of such crimes and I have suffered a great deal and I cannot really be patient because I have been wrongly accused.'

She said she only oversaw teams rebuilding hospitals destroyed by the years of civil war that preceded the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975.

The tribunal was created in 2006 to try leading members of the Khmer Rouge regime, which wiped out up to two million people through starvation, overwork and execution in a bid to forge a communist utopia. Its first trial started last week when the regime's torturer- in-chief Kaing Guek Eav, 66, also known as Duch, went before the court.

Duch's trial will resume on March 30, the court said yesterday, with at least 40 witnesses expected to testify against the former chief of Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, where an estimated 14,000 people were tortured and killed.

Ieng Thirith, speaking a mixture of English and Khmer, said 'everything was done by Nuon Chea', the regime's top ideologue who is among the five top cadres facing trial at the tribunal over the regime's atrocities.

However, the health of the ageing suspects is a concern. Ieng Thirith's husband, former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, was hospitalised on Monday for blood in his urine, court spokesman Reach Sambath said. It was the ninth time Ieng Sary, 83, has been rushed to hospital since the couple were detained by the court in November 2007.

Pol Pot, the leader of the regime, himself died in 1998.

In documents read to the court yesterday, investigating judges argued it was necessary to keep Ieng Thirith in jail to protect her security, preserve public order and ensure she did not flee from trial.

But defence lawyer Phat Pouv Seang demanded her immediate release, saying there was inadequate evidence.

The court will announce at a later date whether judges will release Ieng Thirith from detention before her trial.


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