News / Asia

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

FILE - Buddhist monks gather at a memorial stupa with bones of more than 8,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime at Choeung Ek, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 17, 2014.
FILE - Buddhist monks gather at a memorial stupa with bones of more than 8,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime at Choeung Ek, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 17, 2014.

Chum Mey, an 82-year-old survivor of the Khmer Rouge, sits on a plastic chair outside his book kiosk in the courtyard of the former prison that once held him. He sells books about the Khmer Rouge and about himself in what is now called the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

He said he is now awaiting the verdict from the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal for two former leaders of the regime, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. The court is expected to announce that verdict August 7.
 
“I’m happy to see there will be a verdict,” he said. “The entire world is waiting for it too.”
 
The first phase of the trial, which is coming to an end, focused on the forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975.

“I [will not forget] the evacuation of people from Phnom Penh. I will never forget," said Chum Mey. "Why? It is because I slept amongst corpses. The smell of decomposed humans was everywhere when we were evacuated out of town."

'Duch' sentenced

The tribunal has sentenced just one Khmer Rouge defendant, Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," who received a life sentence for his role as supervisor of the Tuol Sleng detention center.
 
Tuol Sleng survivor Bou Meng said anything less for Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan will be too little.

“I am waiting for the verdict, waiting to see what it would say," Bou Meng said. "In the regime, higher ranking Khmer Rouge cadres order the lower level. The lower cadres followed the order of their seniors. So giving that Duch was convicted to life in prison, the senior leaders should not be convicted to 10 or 20 years in prison. They must be in prison for life, too."

Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the international side of the U.N.-backed court, said he feels sure justice will be delivered.

“It will be justice not only for victims, but for the accused. It means we are going forward to achieve our mandate," he said.

Neth Pheaktra, Cambodian spokesman for the hybrid court, echoed that sentiment, adding "the whole world has been waiting so long for the verdict."

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said the verdict will be critically important.

“The verdict is historically important and the most value for humanity in terms of justice," he said.

Atrocity crimes

But for Youk Chhang, the head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which conducts genocide research crucial to the trial, the completion of the trials should not overshadow a larger failure.

“We [mankind] have failed for over 60 years," he said. "No genocide has ever been prevented and no tribunal has ever brought a complete justice. So long as we continue to fail to prevent more genocide from happening, we can’t declare a victory.”

In the second phase of the trial, which started Wednesday, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan face charges for atrocity crimes, including genocide, committed by the Khmer Rouge under their leadership.

As many as two 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.

The group's leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 and co-founder Ieng Sary died earlier this year.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

 

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
August 01, 2014 3:03 AM
Shame on the UN for the long waiting court. It seems that the West is not interested in the court so they do nothing to press for it. They were only eager to hang Sadam and let those Khmer Rough leaders live long enough. The UN and the West did nothing to prevent the genocide in Cambodia. What they did was sanctioning Vietnam for save Cambodians from the genocide and maintain the seat of Khmer Rough government in the UN council.


by: Igor from: Russia
August 01, 2014 3:03 AM
Shame on the UN for the long waiting court. It seems that the West is not interested in the court so they do nothing to press for it. They were only eager to hang Sadam and let those Khmer Rough leaders live long enough. The UN and the West did nothing to prevent the genocide in Cambodia. What they did was sanctioning Vietnam for save Cambodians from the genocide and maintain the seat of Khmer Rough government in the UN council.


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 01, 2014 1:29 AM
When these cases drag out for too long, the world lost interest. Many of the defendants, witnesses and victims are dead or too old to be of significance.

In Response

by: ed from: nj
August 01, 2014 5:31 PM
Those souls will always be significant. As long as you remember someone they are never truly gone.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid