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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.