Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Former Khmer Rouge Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith (C) stands at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, July 9, 2008. The Khmer Rouge tribunal is to rule on appeal against the provisional detention of Ieng Thirith, wife of ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary and a member of Pol Pot's inner circle.
REUTERS/Tracey Shelton/Pool

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's "Killing Fields" tribunal refused bail to former Khmer Rouge minister Ieng Thirith on Wednesday, saying she had to stay in jail for her own safety and to "preserve public order".

Judge Prak Kim San said the court could not afford to release the 76-year-old accused of "murder, imprisonment and other inhumane acts" while she served as social affairs minister in the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime.

Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist regime is blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people during a reign of terror that was brought to an end by a Vietnamese invasion.

Ieng Thirith was arrested and charged in November, along with her 82-year-old husband and ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, with crimes against humanity and war crimes by the U.N.-backed court.

"There are well-founded reasons to believe that she had committed the crimes as alleged," Canadian co-prosecutor Robert Petit told reporters.

"Brother Number One" Pol Pot died in 1998 in the final Khmer Rouge redoubt of Anlong Veng on the Thai border.

Also in custody are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former president Khieu Samphan, and Duch, former head of Phnom Penh's Tuol Sleng, or "S-21" interrogation and torture centre.

Duch, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, is expected to begin the court's first full trial in September.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Jerry Norton)

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