Khmer Rouge Leader Ta Mok Dies Ahead of Trial
PHNOM PENH—Ta Mok [born Ung Choeun - ed.], the 82-year-old former Khmer Rouge commander whose actions earned him the nickname "The Butcher," has died at a military hospital in the Cambodian capital.Ta Mok was one of the important leaders of the genocide.
Ta Mok, who died Friday, was being treated for high blood pressure, tuberculosis, and breathing complications, his lawyer, Benson Samay, said.
Widely known as a ruthless enforcer for Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, Ta Mok remained powerful for years after Vietnam toppled the Khmer Rouge. He controlled northern areas of the Khmer Rouge's remaining territory from his base at Anlong Veng.
One of two defendants in custody
After a split in the party, he declared himself supreme commander in 1997 and was detaining Pol Pot when he died.
Earlier this month, officials were sworn in for a long-awaited trial of those blamed for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people under the Khmer Rouge from 1975-79. Ta Mok could have provided key testimony against other defendants.
Only Ta Mok and former prison commander Kaing Khek Iev, also known as Duch, were in custody ahead of the trial, and many people fear that more defendants—all of whom are elderly—may die before they can be tried.
Ta Mok is one of the Khmer Rouge leaders profiled in Seven Candidates for Prosecution by Steve Heder, which lays out the cases against seven top leaders.The only sadness in the death of this monster is for the 30,000 victims he is personally responsible for, and the other millions who were killed in other provinces under the Khmer Rouge.
Heder cites "significant evidence that Ta Mok…played a central role in implementing the Communist Party’s execution policies."