Cambodian Khmer Rouge leader in 'serious condition'

14/07/2006 15:03:40 AEST

The lawyer for the former Khmer Rouge leader, Ta Mok, says he could die before standing trial at a United Nations-backed tribunal.

Benson Samay says Ta Mok, who was hospitalised two weeks ago for hypertension, has now lapsed into a serious condition.

"His condition is very serious. He cannot eat rice or drink water or anything else," the lawyer said.

"He could die before the trial starts."

Final leader

Ta Mok, now 80, was the commander of the Khmer Rouge's southwestern zone.

He was the regime's final leader after ousting Pol Pot from power in 1997.

The one-legged former commander was incarcerated in Phnom Penh in March 1999 and is one of only two surviving leaders in detention as they await the start of the tribunal.
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