The Khmer Rouge’s aging former head of state, being held for trial by a UN-backed genocide tribunal, returned to his Cambodian jail cell Thursday (5 June) after being hospitalised last month for high blood pressure.
Khieu Samphan’s lawyer, Say Bory, said a day earlier that his 76-year-old client’s condition was worsening and that he could barely speak. But Peter Foster, a spokesman for the tribunal, said the suspect was well enough to be returned to the jail cell where he was awaiting trial on war crimes charges.
“He is now back at the court compound,” Foster said. “Obviously, the doctors there felt he was stable enough to return to the detention facility. There was no need for him to remain in the hospital.”
Foster was unable to elaborate on Khieu Samphan’s condition, saying doctors had not released results of their medical examination.
Khieu Samphan was rushed from his cell to a hospital on 21 May, suffering from high blood pressure. Say Bory said Wednesday (4 June) that since then his condition had worsened.
The lawyer said he believed Khieu Samphan suffered a second stroke, although doctors have not issued a diagnosis. The Khmer Rouge leader suffered a stroke in November.
Reached Thursday, Say Bory confirmed his client’s return to the detention cell but declined to comment on his condition.
The long-delayed tribunal is seeking justice for atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge during its 1975-1979 rule of Cambodia. The regime is blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people who died of starvation, disease, overwork and execution.
Khieu Samphan is among five suspects facing trial for their alleged roles in the regime’s brutality.