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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 July 2006, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
Top Khmer Rouge leader 'in coma'
Ta Mok
Ta Mok did not speak or open his eyes when visited
The former Khmer Rouge army chief who is facing trial for crimes against humanity is in a "hopeless" condition in a coma, his relatives have said.

Ta Mok, 80, known as "The Butcher", is accused of a leading role in one of the worst genocides of the 20th Century as part of Cambodia's Pol Pot regime.

The one-legged ex-commander is one of only two surviving former Khmer Rouge leaders being held in detention.

His lawyer said he "could die tonight, tomorrow or next week".

Hospitalised

Ta Mok, whose real name is Ung Choeun, ousted Pol Pot in 1997, becoming the group's final leader before being arrested in March 1999.

He was not even aware that relatives had come to see him
Prek Lim, daughter

His daughter, Prek Lim, 50, said she had been allowed a six-minute visit with four other relatives to the military hospital where her father is being held.

"When I saw him sleeping, hooked up to oxygen and unable to move from his bed. I felt very hopeless," said Ms Prek Lim.

She said he did not speak or open his eyes.

"He was not even aware that relatives had come to see him."

Ta Mok's niece Ven Dara said: "I am so hopeless for his condition right now. He is in a coma."

Ta Mok was hospitalised on 29 June with heart, lung and respiratory problems.

Ta Mok and Kaing Khek Iev, known as Duch, who headed the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, are the only leaders being held.

The Pol Pot regime saw up to two million people executed or starved or overworked to death between 1975 and 1979.

This month, officials were sworn in for long-awaited UN-backed genocide trials.

Many fear most of the defendants will die before being brought to trial.


SEE ALSO
Khmer Rouge's legacy of fear
24 May 03 |  Asia-Pacific
UN warned on Cambodia court
30 Apr 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Key figures in the Khmer Rouge
04 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Surviving the Khmer Rouge
24 Jan 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant
14 Apr 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Masters of the killing fields
02 Jan 01 |  Asia-Pacific

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