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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid