G ENERAL Sak Sutsakhan, a senior army commander during the 1970-75 war against
the Khmer Rouge, died on Friday from a heart attack, a government official
Deputy Information Minster Khieu Kanharith said Sutsakhan's body
was lying in state at the defence ministry. He was 68 and had been suffering
from high blood pressure, sources said.
According to historian David
Chandler in his book "The Tragedy of Cambodian History," Sutsakhan's military
career began in 1942 after he joind an elite paramilitary group known as the
"Green Shirts" - mobilized by the Japanese occupation army.
He rose to
become defence minister and deputy chief of staff in the 1970-75 Lon Nol
He was regarded as one of Lon Nol's few able military
commanders and managed to escape into Thailand after the Khmer Rouge takeover in
April 1975. A Vietnamese invasion in December 1978 ousted the maoist
Sutsakhan lived in exile in the US until 1981 and then
returned to the border to head the nationalist forces of Son Sann, fighting a
guerrilla war against the Hanoi-installed Heng Samrin government.
policy disagreement with Son Sann in the mid 1980s, Sutsakhan formed a breakaway
faction called the Khmer Peoples National Liberation Armed
Following the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace agreement he
entered politics by announcing the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party.
But it failed to secure a single seat in the 1993 elections.
setback, Sutsakhan chief was appointed a military adviser to co-premiers Prince
Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen and was a member of King Sihanouk's military
King Sihanouk described Sutsakhan as a "grand patriot" who
played an important role in the peace process. -Reuters