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Ieng Thirith Blames Nuon Chea For Killings

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith told tribunal judges Tuesday it was the regime’s ideologue, Nuon Chea, who was responsible for the thousands of executions at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

The chief of the prison, Kaing Kek Iev, is facing atrocity crimes charges for his role at the prison, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, and will stand trial in coming weeks.

But during a hearing over her provisional detention Tuesday, Ieng Thirith said Nuon Chea was responsible.

“I must say that Noun Chea killed all my students,” said Ieng Thirith, 77, who was social affairs minister for the regime. She spoke in anger, hands shaking, in both English and Khmer.

Charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, Ieng Thirith restated her innocence in the deaths of nearly 2 million people under the regime.

“Noun Chea sent my students to Kaing Guek Eav to be killed,” she said. “Don’t accuse me of being a murderer, or you will be cursed to the seventh hell,” Ieng Thirith said, warning too that the international side in the courts “does not understand Cambodian internal affairs.”

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the courts has yet to decide on an appeal by Ieng Thirith’s lawyers that she be released ahead of her trial.