Sam Bith Ill, Lawyer Says

Citing high blood pressure and the need for outside medical treatment, Sam Bith’s lawyer said Sunday that he will ask the court to release the former Khmer Rouge commander from detention in Prey Sar prison.

“I will make the request to the [municipal] court Monday to take my client from detention because he is sick from high blood pressure,” Kar Savuth said Sunday. “If this happened to normal people, they would die from it.”

Sam Bith was charged Thurs­day for his role in the killing of 16 people, including three backpackers, in 1994.

The former Khmer Rouge commander was reported to have been in control of the Khmer Rouge in the southeastern region and was alleged to have been a deputy of Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok.

In 1999, Khmer Rouge rebel leader Nuon Paet was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the killings.

Sam Bith had eluded capture until Wednesday, when authorities arrested him in the northwest and transferred him to Phnom Penh. A warrant for his arrest had been issued two years ago.

Kar Savuth said he would request that Sam Bith be allowed to leave the prison even if prison authorities supply a doctor because his client may need a specialist.

Sam Bith will be able to discuss the details of the 1994 killings when his health is better, Kar Savuth said.

Although Sam Bith’s health has not changed since he was detained, there is a large worry that his health could degenerate because the “disease is changing fast and easily,” said a prison health department official Sunday at Prey Sar.

The official, who asked for anonymity, said Sunday that prison officials check Sam Bith’s blood pressure two or three times a day and are caring for him.

Sam Bith reportedly suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes.

On Thursday, the municipal court charged Sam Bith with terrorism, conspiracy to commit murder, membership in an armed force and destruction of property.


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