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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    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