Court frees Khmer Rouge 'First Lady'

Agence France Presse

Posted at Sep 16 2012 03:01 PM | Updated as of Sep 16 2012 11:01 PM

PHNOM PENH - The former "First Lady" of Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge regime was freed on Sunday, a court official said, after the country's war crimes tribunal ruled she was unfit to stand trial.

Ieng Thirith, 80, who experts say suffers from Alzheimer's disease, was released from the purpose-built detention facility at the court where she has been held since her 2007 arrest.

"The accused Ieng Thirith has been released with some provisional conditions," court spokesman Neth Pheaktra told AFP.

The release of the ex-social affairs minister, one of only a handful of people ever brought before a court over atrocities during the Khmer Rouge era, will come as a bitter blow to many who survived the 1975-1979 regime, blamed for the deaths of up to two million people.

Cambodia's UN-backed tribunal ordered her release on Thursday but the move was delayed after prosecutors requested tighter conditions.

The court's highest appeal body has now agreed to impose extra provisional conditions, including that she registers her address and must relinquish her passport and other travel documents. It will make a final decision on conditions at a later date, Neth Pheaktra said.