News / Asia

Ex-Khmer Rouge Leader Ieng Sary Dead at 87

In this Nov. 23, 2011 file photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary sits during the third day of a trial of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.In this Nov. 23, 2011 file photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary sits during the third day of a trial of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
x
In this Nov. 23, 2011 file photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary sits during the third day of a trial of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
In this Nov. 23, 2011 file photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary sits during the third day of a trial of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Robert Carmichael
The Khmer Rouge’s former foreign minister, Ieng Sary, has died in Phnom Penh at age 87.  He was one of three defendants in the genocide trial of the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge and his death highlights the problems the United Nations-backed tribunal has as it seeks to deliver some form of justice.

Since the start of the trial in late 2011, Ieng Sary has been seen as the most frail of the defendants. His heart condition and various other ailments meant the Khmer Rouge’s former foreign minister was often absent from court - either recuperating in hospital, where he spent more than two months last year, or watching proceedings from a holding cell.

International defense lawyer Michael Karanavas says that, although his health had long been poor his death was still a surprise.

“In the last ten days, his health deteriorated rather rapidly," said Karanavas.

  • Ieng Sary sits next to his wife during his defection ceremony, Pailin, Cambodia, November, 1996. (Youk Chhang/Documentation Center of Cambodia Archive)
  • Ieng Sary (fourth from left) poses with other Khmer Rouge members in Malai, a small town near Thai border, March 1988. (Documentation Center of Cambodia Archive)
  • Ieng Sary claps his hands while inspecting the railroad in Takeo province with Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Economics Affairs Vorn Vet and Chinese experts, 1977. (Documentation Center of Cambodia Archive)
  • Ieng Sary on a 1977 railroad inspection tour with Chinese advisers. (Documentation Center of Cambodia Archive)
  • This undated photo shows Ieng Sary with Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Documentation Center of Cambodia Archive)

Ieng Sary’s death raises questions about the pace at which the tribunal is proceeding. The court began Case Two - as the trial of the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge is known - in late 2011, with four defendants. But, last year Ieng Thirith - who was Ieng Sary’s wife and the former social affairs minister - was ruled unfit for trial after the court found she had dementia.

Now, with the death of Ieng Sary, who was the third-ranking person in the Cambodian Communist party, just two defendants remain: Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologue who is also known as Brother Number Two; and the former head of state, Khieu Samphan.

Nuon Chea is 86 and was hospitalized in January, although he has now recovered. Khieu Samphan, who is 81, is still in reasonable health.

Speaking at a news conference at the hospital in Phnom Penh where Ieng Sary died, tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen says the court - known formally as the ECCC - will formally terminate proceedings against Ieng Sary, as per Cambodian law.

“But it is also important to remember that Case 002 is not over. The charges against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the two co-accused in Case 002, are not affected by the passing of Ieng Sary," said Olsen. "The ECCC will continue its proceedings against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.”

But, there are more problems facing the court than simply the ailments of the defendants - funding for one.

None of the Cambodian staff has been paid since November and, on March 4, the translators went on strike in protest. The court has not managed to hear evidence since.

The government and the international donors are currently engaged in a standoff, one side waiting for the other to agree to pay.

Add to that allegations of political interference, corruption and the slow pace of proceedings and it is easy to understand why many Cambodians are frustrated, says Youk Chhang, the head of the genocide research organization called the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

Youk Chhang says Ieng Sary’s death is no victory for the Cambodian people, who deserve to see justice being done in court.

“I think that the government and the U.N. have the obligation - they made the promise since the Holocaust 60 years ago - to punish and prevent genocide. And, I think they need to work out their differences to allow the court to complete,” siad Chhang.

Youk Chhang, who survived the Khmer Rouge’s brutal rule, says administrative matters and political differences must not stand in the way of what he calls “this solemn oath”.

“Victims deserve to see the court also complete its work - and that is important for us,” he added.

The next step for the Khmer Rouge tribunal is a health hearing for Nuon Chea. That is scheduled for later this month.

Still, for many Cambodians the demise of Ieng Sary means yet another senior Khmer Rouge figure has escaped responsibility for some of the worst crimes of the 20th century.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid