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Khmer Rouge Suspect Sou Met Dead, Witnesses Report

Khmer Rouge Guerrilla soldiers. Photo courtesy of ECCC.
Khmer Rouge Guerrilla soldiers. Photo courtesy of ECCC.

WASHINGTON DC - A former Khmer Rouge commander thought to be a suspect at the UN-backed tribunal has died.

Sou Met, who commanded the Khmer Rouge air force, was accused of major atrocity crimes as a ranking member of the regime.

Residents in Battambang town, where he was living freely and acting as an adviser to the Ministry of Defense, say Sou Met died on June 14 and has already been cremated.

He was thought to be more than 70 years old and suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.

He was named in confidential court documents as a defendant in controversial tribunal Case 003, which is under investigation.

He was implicated in Khmer Rouge purges, forced labor and illegal detention, including sending hundreds of prisoners to the notorious Tuol Sleng torture center.

His death follows that of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary in March.

Only one suspect remains in Case 003, a case that has faced serious opposition from Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior officials and that some observers doubt will see court.