[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Former Khmer Rouge leader dies

Ieng Sang, on trial for genocide and war crimes committed during Pol Pot regime, dies in hospital aged 87, court says.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2013 03:44
The oldest of three former leaders on trial, he was foreign minister in Pol Pot's murderous regime [AP]

Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge leader, who was on trial for genocide and war crimes, has died, a tribunal court has said.

The 87-year-old co-founder of Cambodia's brutal regime blamed for the killing of about two million people in the 1970's died in a hospital on Thursday after battling declining health.

"We can confirm that Ieng Sary died this morning after being hospitalised since March 4," Lars Olsen, a spokesperson for the UN-backed war crimes tribunal, said.

The cause was not immediately known, but he had suffered from high blood pressure and heart problems and had been admitted to a Phnom Penh hospital with weakness and severe fatigue.

"We are disappointed that we could not complete the proceeding against Ieng Sary," Olsen said, adding the case against his colleagues Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist, and Khieu Samphan, an ex-head of state, will continue and will not be affected.

Sary was being tried by a joint Cambodian-international tribunal along with two other former Khmer Rouge leaders, both in their 80s, and there are fears that they, too, could also die before the tribunal court concludes its proceedings. 

He founded the Khmer Rouge with leader Pol Pot, his brother-in-law. The communist regime, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, claimed it was building a pure socialist society by evicting people from cities to work in labour camps in the countryside.

Its radical policies led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

Sary's wife, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, had also been charged but was ruled unfit to stand trial last year because she suffered from a degenerative mental illness, probably Alzheimer's disease.

He was foreign minister in the regime, and as its top diplomat became a much more recognisable figure internationally than his secretive colleagues.

In 1996, years after the overthrown Khmer Rouge retreated to the jungle, he became the first member of its inner circle to defect, bringing thousands of foot soldiers with him and hastening the movement's final disintegration.

338

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.