Report: Pol Pot near tears during Khmer Rouge trial
Cambodia's parliament reconvenes after six-month recess
In this story:
July 28, 1997
Web posted at: 9:15 a.m. EDT (1315 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Rebel leader Pol Pot,
responsible for Cambodian genocide two decades ago, was close
to tears as he was denounced by hundreds of his former Khmer
Rouge comrades at a show trial late last week, an American
journalist who witnessed the scene said Monday.
Nate Thayer, a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic
Review, said in a press release that a white-haired and
ill-looking Pol Pot, dressed in baggy black trousers, a gray
shirt and blue scarf, listened in silence as he was condemned
by a succession of speakers in Anlong Veng, a Khmer Rouge
stronghold about 200 miles northwest of Phnom Penh.
After the 80-minute outdoor trial Friday -- and a sentence of
life in prison -- Thayer said Pol Pot, 69, needed to be
assisted by men gripping his arms.
"You could see the anguish on his face as he was denounced by
his former loyalists. He was close to tears," Thayer said in
the release issued by his magazine.
Pol Pot was the architect of the Khmer Rouge's brutal
"killing fields" rule from 1975-79 during which up to 2
million Cambodians were killed by execution, torture,
disease, starvation or hard labor.
Why Khmer Rouge turned against Pol Pot
Khmer Rouge radio first denounced Pol Pot in mid-June,
shortly after a bloody split in the secretive Maoist group's
top leadership in which defense chief Son Sen and almost a
dozen members of his family were slaughtered.
Pol Pot and three of his commanders were found guilty of
murdering Son Sen and his family, of "destroying national
reconciliation" and of stealing money from the party, Thayer
The three commanders were also said to have raped the wives
of their comrades, he said.
Pol Pot executed Son Sen for allegedly betraying him during
peace negotiations the Khmer Rouge was holding with First
Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was deposed
earlier this month in a coup by his co-premier, Hun Sen.
Pol Pot fled through the jungles, carried on a stretcher by a
few loyal guerrillas, until he was captured by his former
Thayer, the first Western journalist to see Pol Pot in 18
years, said the trial in northern Cambodia was clearly
stage-managed but he said there was no doubt Pol Pot's
downfall was genuine.
"This is not a hoax, this is not a ruse. Pol Pot is
finished," he said. "The Khmer Rouge as we have known them no
Hun Sen doesn't believe it
But in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said on Monday that Khmer Rouge
political leader Khieu Samphan could not control the
guerrilla group and that Pol Pot was still in charge.
"Khieu Samphan cannot control the Khmer Rouge hard-liners, so
Pol Pot must keep power," he said.
Since Ranariddh's ouster the Khmer Rouge guerrilla group has
made clear it supports the prince, repeatedly criticizing Hun
Sen's power-grab in its radio broadcasts.
On Monday, Khmer Rouge radio blasted a parliament session
expected to approve the nomination of Foreign Minister
to succeed Ranariddh as first prime minister, thus
preserving the form of a coalition government set up after
the U.N.-supervised elections of 1993.
Cambodia's acting head of state,
, opened the
on Monday following a six-month recess.
Chea Sim described Hun Sen's rout of forces loyal to
Ranariddh as a "mopping up operation" necessary to prevent a
terrorist overthrow of the government.
Reuters contributed to this report.
- Burma, Cambodia dominate Southeast Asian talks - July 27, 1997
- Pol Pot alive, Cambodian general says - June 22, 1997
- Pol Pot captured, but where is he? - June 20, 1997
- Unconfirmed report: Pol Pot captured - June 20, 1997
- Pol Pot mystery renewed - June 19, 1997
- Cambodian general: Pol Pot surrenders - June 18, 1997
- Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge denounces him - June 17, 1997
- Pol Pot reportedly trapped in Cambodian jungle - June 14, 1997
- Pol Pot reportedly on the run after slaughter - June 13, 1997
- 'Killing Fields' victims surface on the Internet - Feb. 1, 1997
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.