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Khmer Rouge tribunal told to get to work

March 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM

NEW YORK, March 15 (UPI) -- The death of a senior figure from the Khmer Rouge regime suggests a tribunal investigating war crimes in the 1970s isn't efficient, Human Rights Watch said.

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister leng Sary died Thursday at age 87 in a Cambodian hospital. He was on trial for crimes against humanity committed by the regime that ruled the country from 1975-79.

Brad Adams, director of Asia programs at Human Rights Watch, said the slow work of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia meant few regime members would face justice.

"Cambodians now face the prospect that only three people will be held legally accountable for the destruction of their country," he said in a statement from New York.

Surya Subedi, U.N. special envoy on the rights situation in Cambodia, called on the tribunal to expedite its work.

"We owe it to the surviving victims of the Khmer Rouge, the families of the victims, and the whole of Cambodian society that continues to suffer from the impact of the Khmer Rouge to this day," he said.

Sary was free until 2007 when he was arrested. His wife, leng Thirith, was declared mentally unfit to stand before the tribunal.

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