At the beginning of March, Ieng Sary (also known as Kim Trang, Met Vann, or Brother Number 3) passed away at the age of 87 after suffering a heart attack in a hospital in Phnom Penh. His death opened up a whole new debate about unresolved issues surrounding Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge trials, as well as recent accusations of hiding money and assets that could have served as reparations for the Khmer Rouge regime’s victims.
Ieng Sary served as the Khmer Rouge regime’s foreign minister, and was the main point of contact between Cambodia’s rulers and the rest of the world, making him a better-known figure than the other Khmer Rouge leaders. He was accused along with others of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge six years ago, although originally having been given a pardon due to defecting from the Khmer Rouge in 1996. This defection came together with a peace deal with the Prime Minister Hun Sen, who initiated a royal amnesty for Ieng Sary.
Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, who was also the Khmer Rouge regime’s social affairs minister, was found incapable of standing trial as she is thought to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She is also Pol Pot, or Brother Number 1’s sister. Together with others they ruled in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, relentlessly striving to create a perfect socialist society.
Throughout the entire Khmer Rouge trial, the only person to be successfully prosecuted was chief jailer Kaing Guek Eav
Pol Pot is often the only name that gets associated with the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. However, he was not solely responsible for the regime that killed an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians through execution, torture, starvation or overwork. Throughout the entire Khmer Rouge trial, the only person to be successfully prosecuted was chief jailer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who was sentenced for life for managing the Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of Cambodians were killed and tortured.
These latest development demonstrate the suffering that the Cambodian people still have to face as a result of the actions of the Khmer Rouge, and highlights the unresolved issues and problems of the reign of terror, especially in relation to the legal system in Cambodia. There are fears that two other former Khmer Rouge leaders, who are also in their 80s, could also pass away before justice is served, and potential reparations paid to the victims.
there will also be no justice for Khmer Rouge victims
Ieng Sarywas at one point believed to have had about 20 million US dollars in a bank account in Hong Kong. Although his son has denied these allegations, any assets that he did own will now stay within his own family, rather than contributing to reparations to Khmer Rouge victims and their families. Besides from losing out on tapping into this hidden wealth, there will also be no justice for Khmer Rouge victims as Ieng Sary was able to live a luxurious life in Phnom Penh until his hospitalization and eventually his death.
By Margaux Schreuers