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
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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More