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Mental Assessment Expected To Find Ieng Thirith Unfit for Trial

Former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith sits at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh June 29, 2011. The four most senior surviving members of Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge regime wen

Medical specialists at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal have found a chief suspect at the court unfit to stand trial, sources close to the court said Tuesday.

After examinations, the medical specialists have determined that Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister of the regime, lacks the mental capacity to remember what took place when the regime was in power, two sources close to the court said.

“The results of the new experts is that she cannot stand trial,” one source said, on condition of anonymity.

The findings echo those of John Campbell, a geriatrician who told the court in a hearing earlier this month that Ieng Thirith, who if 79, is not mentally fit to stand trial. During the hearing, he suggested the court retain other specialists to determine her mental health.

The specialists had ended their examination and “found the same result as Dr. Campbell,” the source said.

Phat Pouv Seang, a defense attorney for Ieng Thirith, confirmed Tuesday the mental examinations were complete but said an official report must now be sent to the Trial Chamber for review.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Tuesday the medical teams were “continuing their work” for at least two more weeks.

Ieng Thirith stands accused of atrocity crimes including genocide alongside former leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and her husband, Ieng Sary. The court is expected to begin that trial in earnest next year.