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US Embassy Pushes Khmer Rouge Trial Expedited as Suspects Have Died

U.S. Embassy officials Friday call the death of former Khmer Rouge commander,Ta Mok a reason for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to go forward as fast as possible, to take aging former Khmer Rouge leaders to trial.

Ta Mok, a former Khmer Rouge military leader considered one of Cambodia's most brutal killers has died after being treated for many weeks at Preah Ket Mealea hospital with heart, lung, respiratory problems, spinal condition, tuberculosis, and slipping in and out of a coma. He is reported to be 80 years old. He was arrested in 1999 and was taken to a military hospital in Phnom Penh last month.

U.S. Embassy spokesman in Phnom Penh, Jeff Daigle told VOA that it is a blow to the 1.7 million people who died during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979. It is also a blow to a legal process seeking justice for these victims and their families.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath says that we are going forward with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal with our common goal: seek justice as fast as we can, but this justice should be done with international standards acceptable by all parties concerned.

Documentation Center of Cambodia's director Yuk Chhang says that Ta Mok's death shows a lack of responsibility in providing the rights to the defendants, and the use of local resources to treat Ta Mok.

Opposition Sam Rainsy party's vice president and senator Kong Korm says that Ta Mok and Duch or Kaing Khek Iev, are important witnesses to the Khmer Rouge's genocide, and regrets the former's death. Duch was former director of Tuol Sleng interrogation center and prison where tens of thousands of victims were murdered and tortured.

Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge, died in 1998.

Other top members of the regime, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea live freely in Cambodia