PHNOM PENH, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Ieng Sary, former foreign minister of the Democratic Kampuchea, also known as Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), died on Thursday morning at the age of 87 due to illness after 10 days in hospital, a spokesman of the U.N.- backed tribunal said.
"He passed away this morning at 8:45 a.m. at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh," Neth Pheaktra, spokesman of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) confirmed.
ECCC Public Affairs Chief Dim Sovannarom told reporters at the hospital that Ieng Sary's body will be given to his family for a funeral.
Ieng Sary was admitted to the hospital on March 4 due to weakness and vomiting.
Arrested in November 2007, Ieng Sary was one of three former Khmer Rouge leaders who are being tried by the ECCC for war crime, crime against humanity and genocide.
The two other ailing leaders are Nuon Chea, 86, also known as " Brother Number 2", former deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and Khieu Samphan, 81, the regime's former head of state.
They face a series of charges over the death of an estimated 2 million people from starvation, overwork, torture, execution and massacre during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Established in 2005, the U.N.-backed tribunal is seeking justice for the victims of the regime. As of last year, the court has spent nearly 200 million U.S. dollars for the proceedings.
To date, the tribunal has achieved only one conviction, sentencing ex-chief of Tuol Sleng prison Kaing Guek Eav to life in prison for overseeing the deaths of around 15,000 people during the regime.
The court is now facing shortage of cash to pay salaries for Cambodian staff. On March 4, more than 20 Cambodian staff in the translation and interpretation department went on strike to demand their 3-month unpaid salaries, forcing the court to temporarily close.
According to Neth Pheaktra, 270 out of 287 Cambodian staff have not received their salaries since December last year.