WASHINGTON April 16 -- The Clinton administration has no reason to doubt Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot is dead but wants an autopsy conducted so there will be no lingering about the demise of the architect of a genocide in Cambodia that extinguished at least 1 million lives. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin says the photographs of the dead septuagenarian, who reportedly suffered a heart attack in the dense jungles along the border between Thailand and Cambodia, appear legitimate.
But the United States has been unable to verify claims by the rag-tag remnants of the Khmer Rouge, who are being hounded by the Cambodian military and appear near disintegration, that their former leader is dead. 'We have no reason to dispute the compelling reports of his death,' Rubin said. 'But we support the Cambodian government's call for an autopsy.' Rubin said Thai and Cambodian diplomats have informed the United States that their efforts to verify the claims have proven no more fruitful. The Khmer Rouge, which has made some effort to put its brutal past behind it and reintegrate into Cambodian society, recently convicted the ailing Pol Pot of treason and sentenced him to a type of house arrest in its jungle stronghold at Anlong Veng. The Clinton administration has been working diplomatic and military back channels recently in an effort to help spirit Pol Pot and other Khmer Rouge leaders out of Cambodia and bring them to justice before some form of international war crimes tribunal. U.S. officials say the death of Pol Pot does not end their efforts to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. Rubin says Washington wants genocide trials for 'all the senior Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the atrocities.' ----
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