Ieng Sary Now Staying at Residence in Capital

Notorious former Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary is staying in Phnom Penh, according to a bodyguard stationed at his residence in Chamkarmon district.

The guard, Muon Mon, said Ieng Sary is rather ill and could not meet reporters.

“Yes, he’s here, but he’s sick and can’t talk,” Muon Mon, 19, said Wednesday. He said Ieng Sary returned Jan 29 from a trip to Thailand.

Ieng Sary’s home in Pailin last month was deserted and first governor Y Chhien said that the man once known as the Khmer Rouge’s “Brother No 3” had come to Phnom Penh for an indefinite period of time.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Wed­nesday he was unaware of any recent high-level meetings between Ieng Sary and officials.

But one high-ranking military intelligence official said he regularly speaks with Ieng Sary when he is in the capital and met with him as about two months ago.

“When I need to talk to him, I go,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “But now I don’t have anything to talk to him about.”

The man who served as deputy prime minister in the 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea government, formally broke ties with the movement in 1996, when he was pardoned by King Norodom Sihanouk for a death sentence in 1979 and amnestied from a 1994 statute that outlawed membership in the movement.

Ieng Sary’s detractors, who believe his is partly responsible for more than 1 million deaths during the regime’s rule, fear his positioning in Phnom Penh could mean he is making further deals on the upcoming trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“He is like an old fox who should be watched very carefully,” said Youk Chhang, director at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, where he has collected potential evidence against former Khmer Rouge leaders since 1995. “It worries me when they are this close to the government.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen in the past has hinted that Ieng Sary should not face prosecution because of the King’s amnesty and pardon.

The UN recently said it would only be involved in a trial if neither amnesties nor pardons were allowed and if the government guaranteed the arrest of suspects, among other conditions.

“The UN’s conditions—they are all about Ieng Sary. He’s the cause of all the problems” in negotiations between Cambodia and the UN, Youk Chhang said.

When asked whether Ieng Sary should fear for his safety, Khmer Rouge historian Craig Etcheson said the government and the one-time foreign minister might be sizing up one another.

“It’s not about trust here. It’s about calculations,” he said.

In recent years, Ieng Sary reportedly has suffered from an ailing heart and regularly was seen by doctors in Thailand.




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