Memory Failing Former Khmer Rouge Leader

Former top Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, 72, said he is having trouble completing the writing of his autobiography, which he plans to have published posthumously.

“I am doing it, but I can’t re­member all the events because I am old,” the former Democratic Kampuchea foreign minister and deputy prime minister said in a recent phone interview. “My secretary is writing it.”

Ieng Sary, who lives freely in a lavish Phnom Penh villa, already has a publishing contract for the book, said his nephew, who asked not to be identified by name.

“But he won’t publish it while he is still alive,” the nephew said, because he doesn’t want to stir up trouble that might set back efforts toward national reconciliation. “It will be published when he dies.”

Ieng Sary, one of Pol Pot’s closest allies, was sentenced to death in absentia in a 1979 Vietnamese-sponsored trial in Phnom Penh after Vietnamese troops overthrew the Khmer Rouge and oc­cupied the country. Ieng Sary lived a shadowy existence in Pailin until defecting to the government and receiving a royal amnesty in 1996.

Now old and increasingly frail, he has devoted himself to his last work, his autobiography, to tell his side of the traumatic events that scarred Cambodia and caused the deaths of more than one million people. He has repeatedly denied any responsibility for the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime.

“He can remember some of what he was doing, but the main problem is that he cannot remember some dates and months and years,” the nephew said.



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