The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] on Friday ruled that Pol Pot's former deputy Nuon Chea is fit to continue standing trial after the recent death of co-defendant Ieng Sary [ECCC profiles]. The March 14 death [JURIST report] of the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] co-founder renewed fears [AFP report] that the aging defendants may not live to see the end of the trial. Nuon Chea's list of illnesses include high blood pressure, acute bronchitis and heart disease, leading his defense counsel to argue he is unfit for trial.
In June Nuon Chea's defense team was found guilty of misconduct [JURIST report], including "willful violation of court orders, unauthorized disclosure to the press of confidential material, and statements in court which are disrespectful or which otherwise do not accord with the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession." The trial against Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist, began [JURIST report] in November 2011 with two other regime officials charged with crimes against humanity, breach of international law and genocide. The other defendant Khieu Samphan [ECCC profile] is a former head of state. Ieng Thirith [ECCC profile], a fourth defendant and widow of Ieng Sary, was ordered released [JURIST report] after being deemed unfit for trial due to Alzheimer's.