Khmer Rouge defendant Ieng Thirith ruled unfit for genocide trial

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia's UN-backed tribunal has ruled that a former senior Khmer Rouge leader is unfit to stand trial for genocide because she has dementia and will be released from detention.

The tribunal said in a statement Thursday that the illness, which is likely Alzheimer's disease, diminishes 80-year-old Ieng Thirith's mental capacity.

A spokesman said she would be freed within 24 hours if prosecutors do not appeal.

Ieng Thirith was minister for social affairs during the Khmer Rouge's brutal 1970s reign.

She is accused of involvement in the "planning, direction, co-ordination and ordering of widespread purges" and was charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, homicide, torture and religious persecution.