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Prosecutor Wants Forced Marriage, Rape Added to Khmer Rouge Case


FILE - Nicholas Koumjian, the international prosecutor at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal.

FILE - Nicholas Koumjian, the international prosecutor at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The international prosecutor at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has requested that investigations of a still-pending case include crimes of sexual violence and forced marriage.

A trial of Case 004 would require three indictments of former Khmer Rouge commanders, and critics say it may never see full trial.

But Nicholas Koumjian, the international prosecutor at the court, said Thursday his office has reviewed evidence of forced marriages of up to 80 couples, as well as rapes that took place before executions. He has submitted his findings to the court for investigation.

“This submission is based on new evidence that has become available since the filing of the Case 004 Introductory Submission,” Koumjian said.

He added that the international prosecution had analyzed the information over the last few months and found that the allegations constitute “crimes against humanity including extermination, murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts.”

Duong Savorn, project coordinator for the Cambodian Defenders Project, welcomed the request.

“This is good that the prosecutor has requested an additional investigation," Savorn said. "This should be added long time ago into the court’s scope of investigation. Even if it’s a bit late, but it’s good and important.”

Aging Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are still awaiting a verdict in the first phase of their trial, as well as the beginning of the second and final phase. They are accused of atrocities including genocide.

As many as 2 million Cambodians died from starvation, overwork and executions during the four-year rule of the Khmer Rouge, which attempted to create an agrarian communist utopia.

Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," is the only person convicted by the tribunal so far. Last year he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in killing more than 14,000 while running the Tuol Sleng torture and execution center in Phnom Penh.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.
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