The body of Ta Mok, former military commander known as "the Butcher" of the Khmer Rouge regime, was buried Monday according to the Buddhist tradition by his family. It was attended by hundreds of his followers in Anlong Veng, the former Khmer Rouge stronghold in Northern Cambodia along its border with Thailand.
Ta Mok died Friday of a coma, hypertension, tuberculosis, and respiratory conditions, at a military hospital in Phnom Penh before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal expected to begin in 2007.
The former military cammander's niece told VOA by telephone that 72 Buddhist monks chanted scriptures to bless his body, and there were close to 1,000 supporters, and his family members, accompanied his body in a funeral procession to the burial ground at a temple in Anglong Veng.
Twenty-seven-year old Hean Sophoan, who claims to be Ta Mok's adopted son says he lit three joss sticks and prays for his uncle's soul to reincarnate into another person who will be good and not a murderer like this time and place.
Some villagers did not join the procession, but went to see his face for the last time as he will not be tried for genocide and crime against humanity.
Ta Mok was arrested and detained in a military prison in 1999, awaiting the UN-assisted Khmer Rouge Tribunal, expected to begin in 2007.
Opposition Sam Rainsy party legislator Keo Remy says that Ta Mok received high honor since the government allows his family members to have his body received proper burial and a Buddhist funeral, whereas the Khmer Rouge victims killed by this brutal regime died like animals.
Director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, Yuk Chhang, says Ta Mok puts the blame on Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and now the remaining living former leaders will put the blame on Ta Mok.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath says that even though Ta Mok has died, the tribunal will still go forward as scheduled.
U.S. Embassy officials in Phnom Penh call Ta Mok's death a push for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to proceed speedily to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to the justice.
The Khmer Rouge regime was blamed for the death of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians when it was in power from 1975 to 1979 by execution, starvation, diseases, and forced labor.
The rest of former Khmer Rouge leaders such as Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, and Nuon Chea are living freely in Norwestern Cambodia. Tuol Sleng prisoner chief, Duch is in detention awaiting the trial