Khmer Rouge's 'Brother Number Three' Dead at 87

Ieng Sary helped Pol Pot found the communist regime

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 14, 2013 3:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – Ieng Sary, the brother-in-law of Pol Pot and co-founder of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, has died at age 87, Cambodia says. His death comes amid his trial for genocide between 1975 and 1979, the BBC notes; he'd been hospitalized since March 4 and died of "irreversible cardiac failure," said a rep for the country's UN-supported court. "We are disappointed that we could not complete the proceeding against Ieng Sary,'' he added.

Called "Brother Number Three," Ieng Sary was foreign minister in the regime, and as its top diplomat became a much more recognizable figure internationally than his secretive colleagues. He reportedly led an effort to bring Cambodian intellectuals back to the country after they fled the government. But upon returning, many were tortured and killed, the BBC notes. An estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, overwork, and execution, reports the AP. Ieng Sary defected from the Khmer Rouge in 1996 and was pardoned, but he was arrested six years ago as an international tribunal took hold. The case is set to continue against "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and ex-leader Khieu Samphan. Click for more on Ieng Sary.

In this Nov. 14, 1996 file photo, Cambodia's then First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, left, chats with dissident Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, right, upon his arrival at Malai, Cambodia.
In this Nov. 14, 1996 file photo, Cambodia's then First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, left, chats with dissident Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, right, upon his arrival at Malai, Cambodia.   (AP Photo/Ou Neakiry, File)
A journalist, lower right, listens to Ieng Sary, former Khmer rouge foreign minister, who appears on TV screen at the court press center of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011.
A journalist, lower right, listens to Ieng Sary, former Khmer rouge foreign minister, who appears on TV screen at the court press center of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia...   (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Ieng Sary, Khmer Rouge's former foreign minister, sits during the second trial of the top leaders of Khmer Rouge in the court hall of the UN-backed war crimes tribunal, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Ieng Sary, Khmer Rouge's former foreign minister, sits during the second trial of the top leaders of Khmer Rouge in the court hall of the UN-backed war crimes tribunal, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.   (AP Photo/Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Mark Peters)
n this March 12, 2012 file photo, Ieng Sary sits during the second trial of the top leaders of Khmer Rouge in the court hall of the UN-backed war crimes tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
n this March 12, 2012 file photo, Ieng Sary sits during the second trial of the top leaders of Khmer Rouge in the court hall of the UN-backed war crimes tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.   (AP Photo/Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Mark Peters)
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