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Police arrest Khmer Rouge suspects

  • Story Highlights
  • Police arrest former foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge regime
  • Wife is also arrested by the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal
  • He faces charges of war crimes and cirmes against humanity
  • As many as 2 million people killed by regime between 1975 and 1979
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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Ieng Sary, the foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s, and his wife were arrested by a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal Monday, court officials announced.

Ieng, the brother-in-law of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and his wife Ieng Thirith were arrested at their home in Phnom Penh after court officials delivered an arrest warrant early Monday, according to the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia.

"They have both been brought to the ECCC facilities," the tribunal announced in a written statement. "Further details will be released tomorrow."

The special tribunal of Cambodian and international judges was established to prosecute ex-Khmer Rouge officials for the killings that accompanied the communist movement's 1975-1979 rule. As many as 2 million people were killed in the party's efforts to transform Cambodia into an agrarian utopia before troops from neighboring Vietnam overthrew the regime.

Ieng Sary faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, while Ieng Thirith -- also a member of the Khmer Rouge leadership -- is charged only with crimes against humanity, the court announced.

Police surrounded their home in Phnom Penh shortly after 5:30 a.m. (10.30pm GMT) and drove them away about 9:30 a.m.. The arrest comes despite a 1996 pardon issued to Ieng Sary by Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk.

Remnants of the Khmer Rouge continued to battle Cambodia's government into the 1990s before fragmenting in the middle of the decade. Ieng defected from the movement in 1996, taking about 10,000 guerrillas with him, and Pol Pot died of natural causes in 1998.

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The top surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Nuon Chea, was arrested in September and faces trial before the special tribunal on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Another Khmer Rouge veteran, Kaing Guek Eav, is charged with carrying out mass executions and torture as the commandant of a notorious prison in Phnom Penh. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Journalists Chan Krisna Ea and John Vink contributed to this report

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