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Ieng Sary Fit for Trial, With Breaks, Expert Tells Tribunal

Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary (2nd row from front, L) and former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith (2nd row from front, 2nd R) sit at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh June 27, 2011.
Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, who has been hospitalized since September, has “no need” to remain there and is competent to stand trial, a medical expert told the UN-backed tribunal Thursday.

“I’ve found no evidence of a lack of concentration,” said John Campbell, a New Zealand geriatric specialist tasked with assessing Ieng Sary’s medical condition for the court. Campbell assessed Ieng Sary’s condition in examinations Nov. 4 and Nov. 5. He told the court he saw no need for Ieng Sary to remain hospitalized.

The hearings at the court, which usually run from one hour to one and a half hours before a break, should not be too much for the former foreign affairs minister to handle, Campbell said. “He is weaker than he was before, and that’s because he’s had no physical activity for the last two months or so,” Campbell added.

Ieng Sary, who is 88, is on trial for atrocity crimes alongside top leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. His wife, Ieng Thirith, was released from tribunal detention in September after she was found mentally unfit to stand trial.

Ieng Sary’s defense team has said Ieng Sary should be released to house arrest and that his detention at tribunal facilities outside Phnom Penh is detrimental to his health. The release of Ieng Thirith and subsequent hospitalization of Ieng Sary has increased fears among tribunal observers and regime victims that he and other leaders will not be brought to justice for the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge under their leadership.