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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KR 'first lady' Ieng Thirith cremated

Ornamental fireworks ignite as former Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Ieng Thirith’s body is cremated yesterday evening in the town of Pailin after she passed away on the weekend.
Ornamental fireworks ignite as former Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Ieng Thirith’s body is cremated yesterday evening in the town of Pailin after she passed away on the weekend. Vireak Mai

KR 'first lady' Ieng Thirith cremated

Some 300 people attended the cremation of former crimes against humanity defendant Ieng Thirith in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin yesterday evening, an occasion that was accompanied by a short fireworks display.

Thirith – who was married to fellow Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Ieng Sary, who died in 2013 – passed away on Saturday after a long period of poor health.

She had been living with her children since being severed from court proceedings in 2012 due to advanced dementia.

Thirith’s 60-year-old daughter, Huon Vany, read a statement to mourners shortly before the cremation in which she said her mother had “sacrificed everything, especially the sentiment between parents and children” in her service to the nation.

Thirth and her children at times spent years apart as the former Khmer Rouge minister of social affairs pursued her revolutionary duties.

Ieng Vuth, Thirith’s son and the deputy governor of Pailin province, then passed a flame to Provincial Governor Keut Sothea, who lit the funeral pyre.

Ban Sreymom, a ruling party lawmaker who attended the funeral, remembered Thirith as “the most respected of the former comrades in this town, and all named her as a good adviser”.

Bun Kimheng, 52, who met Thirith in Phnom Penh in 1976 to receive training, said that “whatever crimes she was accused of, they’ve gone along with her after tonight”.

According to the tribunal, Thirith was charged with crimes against humanity, genocide and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

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