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Ta Mok May Die Before The Khmer Rouge Trial Begins

Former Democratic Kampuchea's commander Ta Mok might die within two days or next week, and his illness is very grave, after being admitted and treated at Preah Ket Mealea hospital, says his lawyer Benson Samay.

Eighty two-year old Ta Mok or Ung Choeun, was detained in 1996, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He says that Ta Mok might die Thursday night or Friday, and that his pulses are 120, compared to normal rates of 60-80.

Ta Mok was transported from one military detention to a military hospital last month for treatment in Phnom Penh, after abnormal hypertension, weakness and spinal cord condition.

Mr. Samay says at a press conference that Ta Mok's condition worsened Wednesday night and that he could not sit, stand up, eat or talk, and is under emergency care by the doctors. He says he informs his client's families so they can go to be with him, meaning his illness might be in the final stage.

Ta Mok's niece, Ven Dara says that she was informed of his deterioting condition, and blames the doctors who she alleges letting his condition slip before treating him. She says that she has a hard time believing this happens, and that his younger sibling in Samlout town has already charged that Ta Mok was probably drugged so he cannot talk, and that before the trial he was alright, but now he is sick.

Documentation Center of Cambodia's director Yuk Chhang regrets Ta Mok's condition and whishes that medical experts can assess his illness better, and that news about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal might make this patient disturbed. He says that there were talks about the tribunal for many years, but it has not been finalized, until now, when it will be most likely possible. Ta Mok's mind might be affected by the tribunal.

The U.N. and the government started the Khmer Rouge Tribunal procedure Monday and the Cambodian and international prosecutors begin their investigations into documents on the former Khmer Rouge leaders' genocide and crime against humanity, blamed for the death of one million 700,000 people from 1975-1979.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath says that Cambodian and international prosecutors begin their work for almost one week, but they need some time for the convictions of those leaders.

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal was created by the U.N. and the government with a budget of $65 million 300,000, and expected to have internatioal standards, but up until now no former Khmer Rouge leader has been tried. Killing Fields architect Pol Pot died in 1998 in Khmer Rouge stronghold Anlong Veng.