Khmer Rouge ‘brother number two’ Nuon Chea dies

This file handout taken and released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on November 16, 2018 shows former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea sitting in court at the ECCC in Phnom Penh. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Khmer Rouge ‘brother number two’ Nuon Chea dies

  • Late Sunday police stood guard outside the geriatric center at the Khmer Soviet Friendship hospital in the Cambodian capital while reporters gathered outside

PHNOM PENH: Khmer Rouge ‘brother number two’ Nuon Chea died Sunday aged 93, a spokesman for the Cambodia tribunal where he was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity told AFP.
“We can confirm that defendant Nuon Chea... passed away this evening on 4 August 2019 at Khmer Soviet Friendship hospital,” said Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the tribunal.
The cause of his death was not given but he had been in hospital since early last month.
Nuon Chea’s wife Ly Kim Seng told AFP as she left hospital Sunday that she was by his side until the “last breath,” and that his body would be taken to Pailin province for the funeral.
The reign of terror led by “Brother Number 1” Pol Pot left some two million Cambodians dead from overwork, starvation and mass executions from 1975 to 1979.
But Nuon Chea, considered the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologue, was not arrested until 2007.
He and other senior members of the ultra-Maoist group were put on trial at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
The UN-backed court sentenced him to life in prison last year after he was found guilty of genocide against the ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslim minority group.
His lawyers had informed the court that Nuon Chea would appeal, but prosecutors are now expected to ask the Supreme Court chamber to terminate his case following his death, according to a court official.
Nuon Chea and the sole surviving defendant on trial, Khieu Samphan, were previously handed life sentences in 2014 over the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975, when Khmer Rouge troops drove the population of the capital into the countryside.
The revolutionaries who tried to recreate Buddhist-majority Cambodia into an agrarian Marxist utopia attempted to abolish class while targeting religious groups and the educated.
The hybrid court, which uses a mix of Cambodian and international law, was created with UN backing in 2006 to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders.
It has convicted only three people so far and cost more than $300 million.
Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife died without facing justice, while Pol Pot passed away in 1998.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre, has warned against future investigations, claiming it would plunge the country into chaos.
Tribunal watchers believe that last year’s ruling will be the final verdict, raising questions about the court’s legacy in a country where many are too young to remember the Khmer Rouge.
Late Sunday police stood guard outside the geriatric center at the Khmer Soviet Friendship hospital in the Cambodian capital while reporters gathered outside.
Youk Chhang, head of the country’s pre-eminent Khmer Rouge archive, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said Nuon Chea was “born innocent but he committed sin and so he died with sin.”
“The crimes he has committed will always be a lesson for us all in the future.”


Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

Updated 19 August 2019

Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

  • Then Russian Navy Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko wrote the letter when he was a 36-year-old aboard the Sulak
ANCHORAGE, Alaska: A man discovered a 50-year-old letter in a bottle from the Russian Navy on the shores of western Alaska.
Tyler Ivanoff found the handwritten Russian letter early this month while gathering firewood near Shishmaref about 600 miles (966 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage, television station KTUU reported.
“I was just looking for firewood when I found the bottle,” Tyler Ivanoff said. “When I found the bottle, I had to use a screwdriver to get the message out.”
Ivanoff shared his discovery on Facebook where Russian speakers translated the message to be a greeting from a Cold War Russian sailor dated June 20, 1969. The message included an address and a request for a response from the person who finds it.
Reporters from the state-owned Russian media network, Russia-1, tracked down the original writer, Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko, KTUU reported.
He was skeptical he wrote the note until he saw his signature on the bottom.
“There — exactly!” he exclaimed.
The message was sent while the then 36-year-old was aboard the Sulak, Botsanenko said. Botsanenko shed tears when the Russian television reporter told him the Sulak was sold for scrap in the 1990s.
Botsanenko also showed the reporter some souvenirs from his time on the ship, including the autograph of the wife of a famous Russian spy and Japanese liquor bottles, the latter kept over his wife’s protests.
Ivanoff’s discovery of the bottle was first reported by Nome radio station KNOM.