More than 1,000 people have paid their respects to the Pol Pot regime’s late foreign minister, Ieng Sary, since his remains were returned to the former rebel stronghold of Malai in Banteay Meanchey province Thursday.
Ieng Sary died Thursday, aged 88, after months of illness and with a verdict in his case still far off at the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal.
Ieng Sary’s son, Ieng Vuth, said that preparations are underway for his father’s cremation, which will take place on Thursday, and that more than 1,000 mourners had already visited his late father’s house in Malai district.
“We’ll cremate him in front of our house,” said Mr. Vuth, who is the deputy governor of nearby Pailin province, another former stronghold for rebel Khmer Rouge fighters.
“At about 4 p.m., we will gather, then we’ll start the cremation at 6 p.m.,” Mr. Vuth said.
In a press briefing in Washington on Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked if the U.S. wanted the legal process accelerated to make sure the remaining Khmer Rouge regime defendants—Nuon Chea, 86, and Khieu Samphan, 82—face justice. Ieng Sary’s widow, Ieng Thirith, has already been declared unfit for trial.
“The United States does continue to support the mandate of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia, the ECCC, to bring to justice the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and those responsible for the atrocities of that era,” Ms. Nuland said.
“The death of Ieng Sary simply highlights the need for an expeditious process which is also comprehensive to complete the trials of all of the former Khmer Rouge leaders.”
The death led Human Rights Watch’s Asia director Brad Adams to say Prime Minister Hun Sen had acted to “stymie” progress at the tribunal, in effect denying justice to the victims of the Khmer Rouge.
The government responded Sunday in the form of an opinion article written by the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, which pointed out Mr. Adams’ history of criticism of Mr. Hun Sen.
“Actually, Brad Adams is opening up another battlefield to pit the Cambodian people against Prime Minister Hun Sen and his CPP-led government with a view to scraping off a few more votes for the opposition away from the supporters of the CPP,” the article says.
“It will not work. The accusation does not bear any truth.”