Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Jeng Sary, former Khmer Rouge Foreign minister and his wife Ieng Thirit were arrested this morning and are being brought to trial before the UN tribunal for the Cambodian genocide. They are accused of “crimes against humanity”.
The ex leader was taken from his home at 05.30 this morning by a convoy of 10 armoured cars to be transported to the tribunal.
Jeng Sary, who is probably 78 years old, is one of the principal leaders of the past ultra Maoist regime who dominated Cambodia by means of terror between 1975 and 1979. In a utopic effort to rebuild the country “from scratch”, cities were emptied to force people to work the lands and all forms of op position and protest were systematically eliminated.
It is estimated that during that period closet o 2 million people died from hunger, disease, over work and summary executions. Up until now none of the former Khmer Rouge leaders have been brought to trial and some of them have even taken on institutional roles in current Cambodia.
The tribunal was created last year after seven years of contentious negotiations between the United Nations and Cambodia. Ieng Sary served as a deputy prime minister as well as foreign minister in the Khmer Rouge regime. According to a July 18 filing by the prosecutors to the tribunal's judges. Ieng Sary, ''promoted, instigated, facilitated, encouraged and/or condoned the perpetration of the crimes'' when the Khmer Rouge held power. Ieng Sary's participation in crimes included planning, directing and coordinating the Khmer Rouge ''policies of forcible transfer, forced labour and unlawful killings” .
His wife, Ieng Thirit, served as minister of social affairs, and had great influence during the reign of “Democratic Kampuchea” (the name of the state during the Khmer Rouge regime).
The names of Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirit where high on the Phnom Penh list, together with another 3. Noun Chea, the former Khmer Rouge ideologist, and Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who headed the Khmer Rouge S-21 torture centre, were detained earlier this year on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998, and his former military chief, Ta Mok, died in 2006 in government custody