Ieng Thirith, the former Khmer Rouge minister of social action, who was found unfit to stand trial by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in 2012 due to dementia, has been given permission to travel to Thailand for medical treatment after suffering a series of minor strokes and falling out of her bed in Pailin province.
In a March 6 memo released by the court on Monday, Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn authorizes her to travel after receiving an update on the condition of Ieng Thirith, who turned 82 on Monday.
After being found unfit to be tried on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, Ieng Thirith was released on a number of conditions which included surrendering her passport.
“The Chamber is informed by the general guardian that Ieng Thirith on March 1, 2014, fell off her bed ‘exacerbating her already deteriorating conditions and causing her sustained severe pain’ and that since her injury, she has not been able to get out of bed or walk on her own,” Judge Nonn wrote.
Judge Nonn added that a physician who examined the octogenarian recommended she be treated in the neighboring country, because she could not physically bear the longer journey to Phnom Penh.
The memo also refers to CT scans taken on February 1, which found evidence of cerebral atrophy—or shrinkage of the brain cells—as well as two small strokes.
“Based on the medical certification provided to the Chamber indicating that Ieng Thirith requires further medical treatment, the comparative ease of travel to Bangkok from Pailin and the assurance of her general guardian that the Accused will be returned to Cambodia, the Chamber grants authorization to transport the Accused Ieng Thirith to Bangkok, Thailand for treatment,” Judge Nonn wrote.
Although one of the original conditions of her release in September 2012 was to surrender her passport, Judge Nonn ordered the court’s Office of Administration to contact the authorities to ensure that they allow Ieng Thirith and her daughter to travel to Thailand, where she was a regular visitor for medical treatment before her arrest as a war criminal in 2007.
Ieng Thirith’s daughter and guardian, Ieng Vichida, has assured the Trial Chamber that she will keep them updated on Ieng Thirith’s condition and whereabouts.
Long Panhavuth, a program officer at the Cambodia Justice Initiative, which monitors the court, said there is nothing to indicate that Ieng Thirith is a flight risk.
“The decision of Nil Nonn to let her have treatment in Bangkok is on a humanitarian basis and there is no evidence that Ieng Thirith will escape before returning to the country,” he said.
Of the four original defendants in the long-running Case 002, only Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea remain on trial.