Former Khmer Rouge minister dies in Cambodia

Former Khmer Rouge minister Ieng Thirith at a judicial proceeding on April 30, 2010.

Story highlights

  • Ieng Thirith was accused of crimes against humanity and genocide but was ruled unfit to face trial in 2012
  • She served as minister for social affairs in the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s

Hong Kong (CNN)Former "first lady" of the Khmer Rouge Ieng Thirith passed away Saturday in Pailin, western Cambodia, according to a United Nations-backed Cambodian court.

Ieng Thirith, who served as minister for social affairs in the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s, had been accused of crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, genocide, homicide, torture and religious persecution.
    But proceedings against her were halted in 2012 after the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia -- a special U.N.-backed tribunal that was formed in 2006 to prosecute senior Khmer Rouge leaders -- decided she could not face trial because she suffered from dementia.
    Her death at age 83 was announced in a news release by the ECCC.
    She was the wife of Ieng Sary, the Khmer Rouge's co-founder and former foreign minister who was known as "Brother Number Three." He died in March 2013, at the age of 87, while his trial was ongoing.
    The Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.
    During that time at least 1.7 million people -- about a quarter of the Cambodian population -- are believed to have died from forced labor, starvation and execution, as the movement ruthlessly executed its radical social engineering policies aimed at creating a purely agrarian society.