War crimes suspect and Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea hospitalized
Phnom Penh - An elderly war crimes suspect, regarded as a chief ideologue of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, has been hospitalized, a court spokesman confirmed Monday.
Nuon Chea - known as "Brother Number Two" - was taken to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh on Sunday and was suffering from "weakness and fatigue," a spokesman said.
A doctor estimated that the 86-year-old could remain in hospital for four to seven days, he added. Court sessions have been postponed while a lawyer establishes if the accused will waive his right to be present at hearings.
Nuon Chea is currently on trial at a UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh along with the regime’s former head of state Khieu Samphan and former foreign minister Ieng Sary.
All three defendants have denied charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed during their movement’s 1975-79 rule when as many as 2.2 million people died from execution, disease, starvation and overwork.
Observers fear that one of more of the suspects could die before the end of the complex case. Ieng Sary was hospitalized several times last year.
Proceeding against an additional suspect, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, were stayed indefinitely after she was found unfit to stand trial in September. Experts have said she suffers from dementia, likely Alzheimer’s disease.//DPA