Court up­holds life sen­tences for Kh­mer Rouge lead­ers

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CAM­BO­DIA’S UN-backed court up­held life sen­tences for two top for­mer Kh­mer Rouge lead­ers for crimes against hu­man­ity, de­liv­er­ing a blow to their hopes of re­lease as they face a sec­ond trial for geno­cide.

Nuon Chea, 90, and ex-head of state Khieu Sam­phan, 85, were the first top lead­ers to be jailed in 2014 from a regime re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of up to 2 mil­lion Cam­bo­di­ans in 1975-79.

They ap­pealed their con­vic­tions, ac­cus­ing the court of a string of er­rors and the judges of fail­ing to re­main im­par­tial due to their per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences un­der the regime.

In a lengthy rul­ing yes­ter­day af­ter months of hear­ings, the bench up­held the bulk of the con­vic­tions and the jail terms, but ac­cepted some le­gal er­rors had been made in the ini­tial trial.

Kong Srim, the Supreme Court Cham­ber’s top judge, said the pair “had a com­plete lack of con­sid­er­a­tion for the fate of the Cam­bo­dian pop­u­la­tion” adding that the scale of their crimes was “mas­sive”.

“The Supreme Court Cham­ber con­sid­ers that the im­po­si­tion of a life sen­tence for each of the ac­cused is ap­pro­pri­ate,” he added.

The Kh­mer Rouge regime dis­man­tled mod­ern so­ci­ety in Cam­bo­dia in their quest for an agrar­ian Marx­ist utopia, killing vast num­bers and leav­ing a gen­er­a­tional scar.

The tri­bunal, known as the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Cham­bers in the Courts of Cam­bo­dia (ECCC), is a com­plex hy­brid court on the out­skirts of Ph­nom Penh com­bin­ing el­e­ments of in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic law.

It was set up fol­low­ing an agree­ment be­tween Cam­bo­dia and the United Na­tions to pros­e­cute se­nior Kh­mer Rouge lead­ers.

The num­ber of al­le­ga­tions against Chea and Khieu Sam­phan was so vast that the court split their tri­als into a se­ries of smaller hear­ings in 2011, fear­ful the pair might die be­fore jus­tice could be served.

Nuon Chea and Khieu Sam­phan are also cur­rently un­der­go­ing a sec­ond trial for geno­cide of eth­nic Viet­namese and Mus­lim mi­nori­ties, forced mar­riage and rape.

Four Cam­bo­dian judges and three in­ter­na­tional judges sit in the Supreme Court Cham­ber that heard the ap­peal.

Rules state at least five out of the seven of them must agree on the ver­dict to reach an ac­cord. –

Photo: EPA

For­mer Kh­mer Rouge Deputy Sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of Kam­puchea Nuon Chea (left) Khieu Sam­phan in the court­room yes­ter­day.

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