Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dith Pran, Journalist Portrayed
In 'The Killing Fields,' Dies at 65

Dith Pran, the Cambodian-born journalist whose harrowing tale of enslavement and eventual escape from that country's murderous Khmer Rouge revolutionaries in 1979 became the subject of the award-winning film "The Killing Fields," died Sunday, colleague Sydney Schanberg said.

Mr. Dith, 65, died at a New Jersey hospital Sunday morning of pancreatic cancer, according to Mr. Schanberg, his former colleague at The New York Times. He had been diagnosed almost three months ago.

Mr. Dith was working as an interpreter and assistant for Mr. Schanberg in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, when the Vietnam War reached its chaotic end in April 1975 and both countries were taken over by Communist forces.

Mr. Schanberg helped Mr. Dith's family get out but was forced to leave his friend behind after the capital fell; they were not reunited until Dith escaped 4 1/2 years later. Eventually, Mr. Dith resettled in the United States and went to work as a photographer for the Times.

It was Mr. Dith himself who coined the term "killing fields" for the horrifying clusters of corpses and skeletal remains of victims he encountered on his desperate journey to freedom. [Click for MORE]

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