Ieng Sary

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Ieng Sary
Ui Ieng Sary3.jpg
Ieng Sary in 1976
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
15 January 1976 – 7 January 1979
President Khieu Samphan
Prime Minister Pol Pot
Preceded by Sarin Chhak
Succeeded by Hun Sen
Personal details
Born Kim Trang
(1925-10-24)24 October 1925
Trà Vinh, French Indochina
Died 14 March 2013(2013-03-14) (aged 87)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Resting place Malai, Banteay Meanchey[1]
Nationality Cambodian
Political party Communist Party
Spouse(s) Khieu Thirith
(m. 1951–2013; his death)
Alma mater Paris Institute of Political Studies

Ieng Sary (Khmer: អៀង សារី; 24 October 1925 – 14 March 2013) was a co-founder and senior member of the Khmer Rouge. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea led by Pol Pot and served in the 1975–79 government of Democratic Kampuchea as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. He was known as "Brother Number Three" as he was third in command after Pol Pot and Nuon Chea. His wife, Ieng Thirith (née Khieu), served in the Khmer Rouge government as social affairs minister. Ieng Sary was arrested in 2007 and was charged with crimes against humanity but died of heart failure before the case against him could be brought to a verdict.

Early years

Ieng Sary was born in Nhan Hoa village, which is located in the subdistrict of Luong Hoa (also known as Loeung Va in Khmer), Châu Thành District, Trà Vinh Province, southern Vietnam in 1925. His father, Kim Riem was a Khmer Krom while his mother Tran Thi Loi, was a Chinese immigrant who moved to Vietnam with her parents when she was a little girl.[2][3] However, during his trial in 2011, it was stated that his mother was of mixed Vietnamese and Chinese descent.[4] Sary changed his name from the Vietnamese Kim Trang when he joined the Khmer Rouge. He was the brother-in-law by marriage of the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot (real name: Saloth Sar). Sary and Saloth Sar studied at Phnom Penh's Lycée Sisowath where their future wives, the sisters Khieu Thirith and Khieu Ponnary also studied. Before leaving Cambodia to study in Paris, Sary was engaged to Khieu Thirith.[5]

Sary and Saloth Sar also studied together in Paris. Whilst there, Sary rented an apartment in the Latin Quarter, a hotbed of student radicalism. He and Saloth Sar met with French communist intellectuals, and formed their own cell of Cambodian communists.[citation needed]

Sary and Khieu Thirith married in the town hall of Paris' 15th arrondissement in the winter of 1951. Thirith took her husband's name, becoming Ieng Thirith.[5]


Ieng Sary in 2011

After returning to Cambodia, he was inducted into the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Kampuchea in September 1960.[5]

After the fall of the Khmer Republic on 17 April 1975, Sary made personal appeals to expatriates to help rebuild Cambodia. However, when they returned to Cambodia, they were arrested on arrival, and thrown into brutal detention centers.[6] He took the nickname "Brother number 3" and, as head of diplomacy, he will be the only dignitary not to cultivate his secret identity.

He welcomed foreign visitors and was also responsible for purges and arrests in the government's ministries.[7] At the end of 1977, before the United Nations, he rejected accusations from Cambodian refugees who wanted to open a discussion with the Khmer Rouge government. Together with Pol Pot, Ieng Sary was sentenced to death in-absentia by the People's Revolutionary Tribunal after the Khmer Rouge were overthrown in 1979.

King Norodom Sihanouk officially pardoned Ieng Sary in 1996. He was the founder of the Democratic National Union Movement, a split from the Cambodian National Unity Party.[8]

Arrest and trial

Ieng Sary with Nuon Chea on trial

Ieng Sary, reportedly living in "an opulent Phnom Penh villa surrounded by security guards and barbed wire"[9] was arrested on 12 November 2007 in Phnom Penh on an arrest warrant from the Cambodia Tribunal[10] for war crimes and crimes against humanity. His wife, Ieng Thirith, was also arrested for crimes against humanity.[11]

On 16 December 2009, the tribunal officially charged him with genocide for his involvement with the subjugation and murder of Vietnamese and Muslim minorities in Cambodia.[12]


Sary died in Phnom Penh on 14 March 2013 at the age of 87, before the case against him could be brought to a verdict. He had heart problems for years as well as other ailments. He was taken from his holding cell at the special tribunal to a hospital on 4 March 2013 for what his lawyers said were gastrointestinal problems.[13] Sary's body was transported to his home in Banteay Meanchey province. The body lay for seven days before being cremated.[14] At the time of his death, Sary was on trial for his involvement in the Khmer Rouge.[14] Elisabeth Simonneau Fort, a lawyer for the victims, said "For the victims, this death narrows the scope of the trial and limits their search for truth and justice".[15]


  1. Kong Sothanarith (6 June 2014). "Former Khmer Rouge Minister Hospitalized in Thailand" (in Khmer). Voice of America. Retrieved 6 June 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Kim Keo Kanitha, Choung Sphearith and Long Dany. "Magazine of the Documentation Center of Cambodia–Ieng Sary's Brief Biography" (PDF) (Special English Edition, April 2003): 8. Retrieved 2012-06-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bora, Touch. "Jurisdictional and Definitional Issues". Khmer Institute. Retrieved 2007-11-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Sann Rada, Transcript of Trial Proceedings–Case File Nº 002/19-09-2007-ECCC/TC, Day 4–5 December 2011, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, retrieved 29 October 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 David P. Chandler (1999). Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Westview Press. p. 32. ISBN 0813335108. Retrieved 2007-11-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "chandler" defined multiple times with different content
  6. BBC News, Top Khmer Rouge diplomat in court. 30 June 2008
  7. Lemonde, Marcel (2013-01-03). un juge face aux khmers rouges. Éditions du Seuil. p. 250. ISBN 978-2021055740.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Peter H. Maguire. Facing Death in Cambodia. New York: Columbia University Press. 2005. p. 101, 103.
  9. The Statesman
  10. Ed Johnson and Paul Tighe, "Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Arrested in Cambodia", Bloomberg L.P., 12 November 2007.
  11. "Ex-official of Khmer Rouge and wife arrested for crimes against humanity", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), 12 November 2007.
  12. "Genocide charges for two former Khmer Rouge Leaders"
  13. "Ieng Sary, Khmer Rouge Leader Tied to Genocide, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Khmer Rouge Founder Ieng Sary Dies". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 15 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "KIeng Sary, minister for Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, dies". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 15 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Political offices
Preceded by
Sarin Chhak
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Hun Sen