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Khmer Rouge 'first lady' discharged from Thai hospital

PHNOM PENH - The former "first lady" of Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge regime has been discharged from a Thai hospital after an improvement in her health, her lawyer said Monday.

Ieng Thirith, 82, returned to Cambodia last week, days before the UN-backed court which freed her delivers its verdict on the two most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge.

The case against Ieng Thirith was suspended after the court ruled dementia left her unfit to stand trial, releasing her from detention in September 2012 after around five years.

The widow of Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary -- and herself a social affairs minister under the regime -- had been hospitalised in Thailand since March.

Heart, urinary, and lung problems left her relying on a feeding tube and oxygen to survive, her son Ieng Vuth, the deputy governor of northwestern Pailin province -- a former Khmer Rouge stronghold -- said in May.

But on Monday her Cambodian lawyer said her health had slightly improved.

"She was discharged from the (Thai) hospital last week and is at her son’s home in Pailin province," Phat Pouv Seang said.

"She is better now. She is breathing on her own, not by the machine anymore," he added.

The suspension of the case against Ieng Thirith, one of only a handful of people ever brought before a court over atrocities during the Khmer Rouge era, was a bitter blow to many who survived the regime, blamed for the deaths of up to two million people.

Her husband Ieng Sary died aged 87 in March last year while on trial for war crimes and genocide, cheating Cambodians of a verdict over his role in the regime’s1975-1979 reign of terror.

AFP


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