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Thursday, April 16, 1998 Published at 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK



World: Asia-Pacific

Pol Pot dead
image: [ The deathbed of the man believed to be Pol Pot ]
The deathbed of the man believed to be Pol Pot


BBC Correspondent Enver Solomon: "His death will not mean the end of the Khmer Rouge"
Pol Pot, the former leader of the Khmer Rouge, who was responsible for the deaths of more than a million Cambodians in the 1970s, has reportedly died of a heart attack.

His body was shown to journalists in a village in western Cambodia near the Thai border and, after initial scepticism, they said they were confident it was Pol Pot.


TV and film director David Monroe who brought Pol Pot to the world's attention
Pictures of the corpse in a shack have also been shown on television. The footage shows the body of an elderly man lying on a plain mattress, dressed in a simple top and dark trousers and surrounded by garlands of flowers.

The journalists reported that the body appeared to be fresh and showed no apparent signs of wounds or injury.

Pol Pot's wife and daughter, along with a handful of other mourners and a small group of guerrillas, were the only people present. The journalists say there was a sombre mood.

He is due to be cremated in three days' time.


[ image: Rumours of Pol Pot's death have circulated for several years]
Rumours of Pol Pot's death have circulated for several years
News of Pol Pot's death came just hours after Khmer Rouge officials said they were prepared to hand over their former leader to end fighting with Cambodian government troops.

He was recently under house arrest after being deposed by dissidents in the movement.

Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state when America bombed Cambodia, told the BBC earlier he thought the Khmer Rouge might have killed Pol Pot to avoid handing him over for trial abroad.


Journalist Nate Thayer interviewed Pol Pot recently: "He was an old, frail man."
"I think so ill of the Khmer Rouge that I don't even exclude that they killed him in order to avoid pressure of this kind," he said.

"Because if (he was) alive, there would be international pressure to extradite him, and that, to refuse that would have outlawed the Khmer Rouge even more."

'Timely' death

In recent weeks the Khmer Rouge has suffered a wave of defections to the government side.

Thousands of weary guerillas have been willing to give up their struggle.


[ image: Recent string of Khmer Rouge defections]
Recent string of Khmer Rouge defections
The Khmer Rouge has found itself closer than ever before to final defeat.

According to the BBC's correspondent in the region, Enver Solomon, the death of Pol Pot would be extremely convenient for the remaining hardcore group of guerillas.

They could then attempt to carve out a political role for themselves, free of the man who is widely regarded as one of the most brutal leaders the world has ever seen.
 





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