Court up­holds life terms for 2 Kh­mer Rouge lead­ers

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

A spe­cial Cam­bo­dian court yes­ter­day upheld the life sen­tences for the two most se­nior sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Kh­mer Rouge regime, which was re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple. The court said the mas­sive scale of the crimes showed the two men’s com­plete lack of con­sid­er­a­tion for the lives of the Cam­bo­di­ans. The Supreme Court Cham­ber said the 2014 ver­dict by a UN-as­sisted Kh­mer Rouge tri­bunal was “ap­pro­pri­ate” given the grav­ity of the crimes and roles of the two — Khieu Sam­phan, the 85year-old Kh­mer Rouge head of state, and Nuon Chea, the 90-year-old right­hand man to the com­mu­nist group’s late leader Pol Pot. “It is a his­toric day for Cam­bo­dia. For the first time in 41 years some­one in the na­tional lead­er­ship has been held crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for the crimes com­mit­ted by the Kh­mer Rouge regime,” said tri­bunal spokesman Lars Olsen. The two — who were sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment for crimes against hu­man­ity in­clud­ing ex­ter­mi­na­tion, en­forced dis­ap­pear­ances and po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion — sat im­pas­sively as the lengthy ver­dict was read out. They were de­tained in 2007 and started serv­ing their sen­tences in 2014 in­side the Kh­mer Rouge tri­bunal’s fa­cil­ity, where con­di­tions are much bet­ter than or­di­nary Cam­bo­dian prison. They have ac­cess to ra­dio and tele­vi­sion. About 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple are es­ti­mated to have died from star­va­tion, dis­ease and ex­e­cu­tion due to the ex­trem­ist poli­cies of the com­mu­nist Kh­mer Rouge when they held power from 1975 to 1979. “I waited for this mo­ment for 40 years. It has now ar­rived,” said Seak Ny, a 64-year-old woman whose hus­band died of star­va­tion un­der the Kh­mer Rouge regime. She said the Kh­mer Rouge also killed her older brother and his five chil­dren when they found out he was a for­mer sol­dier in the gov­ern­ment they ousted. “Today I am happy be­cause these peo­ple have re­ceived jus­tice,” she said, adding that she came to the tri­bunal to see the faces of the Kh­mer Rouge lead­ers.

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