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Aging Defendants Fit To Stand Trial, Tribunal Doctors Say

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, left, former Khmer Rouge head of state, and Nuon Chea, right, who was the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, sit in the court hall before they made closing statements at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Doctors at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal have determined that aging regime leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan remain fit to stand trial.

However, the court physicians recommended the court reduce the time scheduled for hearings so that the two men, aged 88 and 83, respectively, can be better monitored for health concerns.

Nuon Chea, the regime’s chief ideologue, and Khieu Samphan, its nominal head of state, are in the midst of a second and final phase of an atrocity crimes trial, for their leadership role in the regime, under which more than 1.7 million people perished, between 1975 and 1979.

“Nuon Chea can physically participate in the trial,” psychiatrist Huot Lina told a court hearing on Friday. “Concerning the evolution of Khieu Samphan’s mental state, he has stable memory, and he is able to stand trial.”

The statements follow assessments made earlier this week.

Court gerontologist Chan Kin Minh affirmed Friday both men were fit to stand trial.

Nuon Chea’s health remains unchanged, and Khieu Samphan’s examination shows “nothing” that would prevent his ability to continue hearings, the doctor told the court.