The body of the Khmer Rouge’s former Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, who died on Sunday evening, will be kept for seven days at Pailin province’s Prom Kiri Morakat pagoda before being cremated in Sala Krao district in line with Buddhist practice.
More than 100 people, including Chea’s relatives, attended the commencement of funeral rites on Monday.
Lao Chealinda, Chea’s third daughter, told The Post while preparing for the funeral on Monday that the plan was to keep his body in an ice-cooled coffin until it is cremated according to Buddhist tradition.
Chealinda said when Chea became seriously ill in early July and was sent to Phnom Penh’s Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, she went to look after him until he died.
“As the end came, he was exhausted, his throat was producing mucus and his entire system was weak – especially his kidney and liver as he also had diabetes,” she said.
Chealinda said just before he died, Chea gave final advice to all his children and grandchildren – to look after their health, study hard and stick together.
“I’m very proud of my father as an individual, no matter how he is regarded by other people. For me, he is a well respected father who was good to his children. He was a strong man who never showed his children any weakness,” she said.
Chealinda said her father had three daughters and a son who all looked after him in his final days, but none showed much sorrow when he died because he was 93 years old and his death wasn’t unexpected.
As funeral rites began on Monday, more than 100 people expressed remorse over Chea’s passing and helped to organise ceremonies at Prom Kiri Morakat pagoda, with some highlighting that he was an elderly man who had become an adherent of Buddhism.
Almost 10 media outlets arrived at the pagoda to take photographs and report on the funeral preparations, but local villagers and Chea’s relatives tried to prevent any pictures being taken of his body.
An elderly woman at the pagoda who was helping to move Chea’s body so it could be bathed before being put into a coffin shouted loudly that no one was allowed to take photographs.
The other villagers declined to comment to reporters about Chea’s notorious background.
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) spokesman Neth Pheaktra announced on Sunday that the former Khmer Rouge deputy leader had died after receiving treatment in hospital since July 2.
“We can confirm that Nuon Chea, 93, passed away on Sunday evening at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital. He had been treated at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia’s detention centre before being transferred to the hospital for medical treatment on July 2,” he said.
Pheaktra said he could not reveal what Chea, who was second-in-command only to Pol Pot, had died of as information on his health was confidential.
Chea was the president of the Khmer Rouge’s state legislature and was sentenced to life in prison by the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Case 002/02, along with Khieu Samphan, the ultra-Maoist regime’s head of state.