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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora