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Lawyer: Nuon Chea Instructed Ieng Thirith

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith does not deserve to be held ahead of her atrocity crimes trial on the grounds that she is of lower rank than four other detainees, her lawyer has argued.

In his petition for her pre-trial release, lawyer Phat Peou Sieng said the former social affairs minister was “given instructions by Nuon Chea,” and should be considered of lower rank, potentially putting her outside the purview of the tribunal courts.

Ieng Thirith, who is the wife of jailed former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary, also suffers an “organic mental disorder” and requires constant medical attention, her lawyer argues in the appeal, dated Jan. 8.

Nuon Chea’s lawyer, Son Arun, declined Friday to speak specifically to the appeal, but repeated his defense of Nuon Chea in general.

“He did not know about the killing that much because there were so many secrets,” Son Arun said.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said his research showed Nuon Chea as a member of the powerful standing committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.

Ieng Thirith was not a full member of the standing committee, he said.