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Gov't Flies Aging KR Leader to Hospital After Stroke

Aging Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan was flown by government helicopter to a Phnom Penh hospital Wednesday, following an apparent stroke in the former stronghold of Pailin the day before. Khieu Samphan is widely expected to be the next former regime leader to face tribunal indictment, and his stroke came just a day after the arrests of two other top leaders, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

Khieu Samphan's youngest son, Khieu Voradeth, told VOA Khmer Wednesday his father was fine but required an examination. At least one human rights official said hospitalization of the former nominal head of the regime could present obstacles to his arrest, but not charges against him.

"He has recovered now and just needs some medical checkups for his body, head and blood," Khieu Voradeth said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government would work to protect Khieu Samphan's health, to ensure it was not blamed if he became more ill.

Khieu Samphan and his wife were driven from a military airport to the Phnom Penh's Calmette Hospital, as armed police kept reporters at bay. Plainclothes police escorted Khieu Samphan to a scanning room to have his head checked.

Calmette Director Heng Tai Kry declined to comment on Khieu Samphan's condition.

Khieu Samphan collapsed Tuesday evening and temporarily slipped from consciousness after complaining he felt ill.