Nuon Chea, a key leader in Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge who was convicted of genocide last year, has died at the age of 93.
Known as Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea was second only to the regime’s leader Pol Pot during Khmer Rouge rule over Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Up to two million people are thought to have died during the Khmer Rouge’s four years in power.
In 2018, a UN-backed court sentenced Nuon Chea to life in prison.
A spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) confirmed that the 93-year-old had died in hospital. The cause of death was not announced.
After seizing control of Cambodia in 1975, the Maoist Khmer Rouge attempted to force the country back to the Middle Ages.
Millions died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution – almost a quarter of the population. Nuon Chea was one of the ideological architects of this Year Zero policy.
After Vietnam invaded and deposed the regime in 1979, Nuon Chea fled to the hills with supporters until he was pardoned by the state in 1998 under the terms of a peace deal.
But under international pressure, Cambodia arrested the former leaders in 2007. Nuon Chea and former head of state Kieu Samphan were later convicted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Another of the regime’s leaders, Kaing Guek Eav – known as Comrade Duch – was also given a life sentence by the UN-backed court in 2012.