After spending about one month in hospital, former senior Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison over his role during the regime’s brutal rule, died Sunday night. He was 93 years old.
Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia, said Chea passed away at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh after he was hospitalized last month.
“We can confirm that Nuon Chea, 93, passed away this evening [Sunday] on Aug. 4, 2019,” Pheaktra said.
“He had been transferred from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia’s detention center to the hospital for medical treatment since July 2, 2019.”
Last year, Chea, former deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea and Khieu Samphan, former head of state, were sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of killing ethnic Vietnamese and Cham minorities.
An estimated 1.7 million people died of overwork, starvation, disease and execution during the Khmer Rouge’s brutal rule from 1975 to 1979.
Youk Chhang, director of Documentation Center of Cambodia, said that Chea’s death could affect the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s progress.
“He did a lot of bad things,” Chhang said. “Nuon Chea was a rude person and he never confessed to killing the Cambodian people,” he added.