News / Asia

Cambodia’s Nuon Chea Ruled Fit for Trial

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Nuon Chea, listens to testimony during his trial at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 20, 2013.
In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Nuon Chea, listens to testimony during his trial at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 20, 2013.
Robert Carmichael
Judges at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal ruled Friday that the most senior surviving member of the ultra-Maoist movement, 86-year-old Nuon Chea, is fit for trial. That decision comes days after a health hearing for the ailing defendant, and just two weeks after his co-accused, Ieng Sary, died.
 
Nuon Chea was not in court to hear the judges’ decision, but the ruling will likely come as no surprise. Although the elderly defendant suffers from a number of health complaints, including heart disease, dizziness and fatigue, two experts told the court earlier this week that he was mentally and physically capable.
 
On Friday, the president of the court, Nil Nonn, said that testimony was conclusive: Nuon Chea was fit for trial. The voice you can hear is that of the court translator.
 
“Notwithstanding the advanced age and frailty of the accused, Nuon Chea, and the accused’s precarious physical health, the recent report and testimony of the court-appointed medical experts clearly indicate that the accused remains capable of meaningful participation in his own defense,” he said.
 
Friday’s decision comes amid heightened fears that the slow-moving court will run out of defendants before it hands down any judgments.
 
Ieng Sary and his wife in November 1996 during the defection ceremony of Ieng Sary in Pailin. (Youk Chhang/Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives)Ieng Sary and his wife in November 1996 during the defection ceremony of Ieng Sary in Pailin. (Youk Chhang/Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives)
x
Ieng Sary and his wife in November 1996 during the defection ceremony of Ieng Sary in Pailin. (Youk Chhang/Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives)
Ieng Sary and his wife in November 1996 during the defection ceremony of Ieng Sary in Pailin. (Youk Chhang/Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives)
Earlier this month, the former foreign minister, Ieng Sary, died of heart failure at age 87. Last year, his widow, the former social affairs minister, Ieng Thirith, who has dementia, was ruled unfit for trial.
 
That has left just two former leaders of the Khmer Rouge to face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Case Two: Nuon Chea and the former head of state Khieu Samphan, who is 81. They have denied all charges.
 
When the trial of the four began in late 2011, it was those very issues of age and health that led the trial chamber to divide the complex indictment into a series of mini-trials.

Mini-trial one - which is ongoing - is looking at just two sets of crimes: a torture and execution site, and the forced movement of people in 1975.
 
At the time, the judges said the bulk of the remaining charges - including crimes such as forced marriage, enslavement and genocide - would be heard later in other mini-trials.
 
Last month, the tribunal’s highest body ordered judges to reassess the decision to sever Case Two in 2011 because they failed to consult with other parties to the trial, such as the prosecution and the defense. Also of concern was the fact that the crimes within mini-trial one were not representative of the broader indictment.
 
On Friday, the trial chamber said it had looked into the decision, and announced that it would carry on as before: looking solely at one execution site and the forced movement of people.

Leakhena Nou is the executive director of ASRIC, the U.S.-based organization that represents more than 170 Cambodian-American victims.
 
Nou, who was in court Friday to hear the decision, says the ruling will disappoint ASRIC’s members. For many of them, the crimes in mini-trial one do not reflect their experiences under the Khmer Rouge.
 
“Does that mean if you don’t fall under forced movement or you weren’t a victim at the execution center that your victimization means nothing?" she asked. "So by expanding other crimes that we had mentioned - genocide and forced marriage - at least it would be more inclusive of all the victims who may have a chance to find justice. So I think on behalf of the survivors, it’s quite disappointing.”
 
Around two million people died in less than four years under the Khmer Rouge, most from execution, starvation, overwork and disease. The survivors experienced appalling hardship.
 
Forced marriage, for instance, is listed as a crime against humanity and affected an estimated 200,000 Cambodians. More than 650 of nearly 4,000 survivors registered with the tribunal for Case Two were forcibly married by the Khmer Rouge, which controlled every aspect of Cambodians’ lives.
 
Nou understands that the court is struggling to balance a multitude of issues, including a lack of funding, and that it needs to keep moving ahead to reach a resolution, but she says it is coming unfairly at the cost of the survivors.
 
“I mean this is the one chance of a lifetime for the survivors to seek justice, and if this is all the court can deliver, I really don’t think it’s a very comprehensive form of justice,” she added.
 
Also on Friday the court said that hearings would resume on April 8. They had been suspended in recent months due to the ill health of defendants and because of a strike by unpaid Cambodian staff members.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid