Ieng Sary (Khmer: អៀង សារី; 24 October 1925 – 14 March 2013) was a co-founder and senior member of the Khmer Rouge. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea led by Pol Pot and served in the 1975–79 government of Democratic Kampuchea as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. He was known as "Brother Number Three" as he was third in command after Pol Pot and Nuon Chea.
His wife, Ieng Thirith (née Khieu), served in the Khmer Rouge government as social affairs minister. Ieng Sary was arrested in 2007 and was charged with crimes against humanity but died of heart failure before the case against him could be brought to a verdict.
Ieng Sary was born in Nhan Hoa village, which is located in the subdistrict of Luong Hoa (also known as Loeung Va in Khmer), Châu Thành District, Trà Vinh Province, southern Vietnam in 1925. His father, Kim Riem was a Khmer Krom while his mother Tran Thi Loi, was a Chinese immigrant who moved to Vietnam with her parents when she was a little girl. However, during his trial in 2011, it was stated that his mother was of mixed Vietnamese and Chinese descent. Sary changed his name from the Vietnamese Kim Trang when he joined the Khmer Rouge. He was the brother-in-law by marriage of the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot (real name: Saloth Sar). Sary and Saloth Sar studied at Phnom Penh's Lycée Sisowath where their future wives, the sisters Khieu Thirith and Khieu Ponnary also studied. Before leaving Cambodia to study in Paris, Sary was engaged to Khieu Thirith.
Sary and Saloth Sar also studied together in Paris. Whilst there, Sary rented an apartment in the Latin Quarter, a hotbed of student radicalism. He and Saloth Sar met with French communist intellectuals, and formed their own cell of Cambodian communists.
Sary and Khieu Thirith married in the town hall of Paris' 15th arrondissement in the winter of 1951. Thirith took her husband's name, becoming Ieng Thirith.
After returning to Cambodia, he was inducted into the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Kampuchea in September 1960.
After the fall of the Khmer Republic on 17 April 1975, Sary made personal appeals to expatriates to help rebuild Cambodia. However, when they returned to Cambodia, they were arrested on arrival, and thrown into brutal detention centers. He took the nickname "Brother Number Three" and, as head of diplomacy, he would be the only dignitary not to cultivate his secret identity.
After the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, Ieng Sary used his new government post and his image as a respected intellectual to persuade others to return from exile to Cambodia, where they were arrested, tortured, and often killed. When the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by invading Vietnamese forces in 1979, Ieng Sary fled to the countryside.
He unexpectedly defected in 1996, along with more than 1,000 rebel troops under his command, and negotiated peace with King Norodom Sihanouk, who pardoned him. In 2007, however, Ieng Sary, his wife, and several others were indicted for crimes against humanity committed during the Cambodian Genocide by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a UN-backed tribunal. At the time of his death in a Phnom Penh hospital, Ieng Sary was still in detention awaiting trial.