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Ieng Thirith, Former Khmer Rouge Leader, Dead at 83


Former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, center, Ieng Sary's wife, cries during the cremation ceremony of his husband at his home of a former stronghold of Malai, 420 kilometers (260 miles) from Cambodian-Thai border, northwestern of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, March 21, 2013.

Former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, center, Ieng Sary's wife, cries during the cremation ceremony of his husband at his home of a former stronghold of Malai, 420 kilometers (260 miles) from Cambodian-Thai border, northwestern of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, March 21, 2013.

Khmer Rouge survivors said Monday that her passing was another painful reminder how few of the regime’s leaders have faced trial.

The Khmer Rouge’s former social affairs minister, Ieng Thirith, died Saturday and will be cremated late Monday, family and officials said.

The former regime leader who was found mentally incompetent to stand trial at the UN-backed tribunal in 2011, despite being a senior leader of a regime that oversaw the deaths of more than 1.7 million people.

Ieng Thirith, 83, was the wife of Ieng Sary—former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, who died in 2013, months before the tribunal announced the verdict on his atrocity crimes.

Khmer Rouge survivors said Monday that her passing was another painful reminder how few of the regime’s leaders have faced trial.

Chum Mey, a survivor of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, urged the Khmer Rouge tribunal to speed up hearings for two surviving leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

“We feel very sorry. Previously, her husband, Ieng Sary, passed away, but the court did zero action, useless, and now the wife is also gone,” he said. “Therefore, there are only two people remaining for Case 002. If they pass away, the court has no justice, so they should speed up the case.”

Chhang Youk, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge atrocities, said Ieng Thirith’s deeds will be remembered by history.

“When Thirith died, there is very little reaction from people. People expected she would die and accepted that she had a serious illness,” he said.

Family members report Ieng Thirith’s three-day funeral ceremony ended Monday night with her cremation in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin. Her remains will be kept with Ieng Sary’s, at a pagoda in Phnom Penh.

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