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Cambodia May Pardon Leader of Khmer Rouge

August 25, 1996|From Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A mass amnesty ceremony announced Saturday by Cambodia's king is expected to pardon a leader of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s, a step that may speed the end of the nation's civil war.

The Khmer Rouge chieftain, Ieng Sary, now leads a breakaway faction negotiating peace with the government. Hard-liners loyal to Sary's brother-in-law, Pol Pot, have denounced the renegades as traitors.

A palace statement said the amnesty ceremony will be held Oct. 31, King Norodom Sihanouk's 74th birthday. It did not say who will be pardoned. Palace and government officials either refused to comment or said they did not know.

The declaration came a day after Cambodia's two prime ministers issued a joint appeal for amnesty for Sary, meeting one of the king's conditions for considering a pardon for him.

Sary is accused of crimes against humanity as an architect of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, which killed as many as 2 million Cambodians.

The king, a prisoner during the Khmer Rouge regime, has said he personally would like Sary put on trial, but would consider a pardon if it were approved by the public through the National Assembly.

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