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Tribunal Medicine Inadequate, Defendant Ieng Sary Claims

Following warnings from his lawyer that tribunal defendant Ieng Sary could face health problems if kept in jail, the former foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge said Monday the medicine he was receiving was inadequate.

The tribunal has so far given him medical checkups and care, but Ieng Sary said the medicine was poor. His lawyers have argued he should be released ahead of an atrocity crimes trial lest his health deteriorate.

Ieng Sary's lawyer, Ang Udom, said his client had a heart condition requiring quiet surroundings, an adequate home environment and the presence of his relatives to care for him.

"He is concerned. He is in prison," Ang Udom said. "His health is deteriorating. He might face death before the hearing. It will not benefit his family, himself, especially the court, and the special witnesses."

Ieng Sary, 78, was arrested a week ago in Phnom Penh, along with his wife, Ieng Thirith, 75, the regime's social affairs minister.

The medicine he was receiving was "not as good as when he was outside" detention, Ang Udom said. "The medicines at the Khmer Rouge tribunal are those that he can use. He has a doctor in Bangkok, and he still uses the medicine from his doctor in Bangkok."

Some medicine arrived late on Friday, Ang Udom said.

Thun Saray, director of the rights group Adhoc, said that if the health issue was not serious, questioning should continue and the tribunal should move forward.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the courts were doing what they could to make Ieng Sary comfortable, as well as the other jailed leaders.

"The doctors are trying to respond to all the defendants' requests," he said. "Like, if [one] wants to have a good mattress, we give him a good mattress. We are not doing what his regime did to the Cambodian people."