News / Asia

Khmer Rouge Leader Shows Remorse for Killings

Nuon Chea, left, also known as Brother Number Two, attends testimony of former Khmer Rouge leaders, Phnom Penh, March 20, 2012.
Nuon Chea, left, also known as Brother Number Two, attends testimony of former Khmer Rouge leaders, Phnom Penh, March 20, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— A leader of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge expressed remorse on Thursday for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people during the "Killing Fields" regime in the 1970s and accepted responsibility for the first time during court proceedings.
 
"I am responsible for what happened during the time of Democratic Kampuchea," Nuon Chea told the United Nations-backed tribunal, referring to the name of the country during the period, when he was the party's second-in-command.
 
"I am very regretful for events that happened intentionally and unintentionally. I am morally responsible," he said, expressing "condolences" to victims of the regime present in the court, where he faces charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 
"Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and co-defendant Khieu Samphan, a former head of state during the Khmer Rouge period, have until now denied responsibility or even knowledge of the killings.
 
Khieu Samphan said he regretted the "unspeakable suffering" done to the Cambodian people under the Khmer Rouge and offered condolences, his first such apology in court.
 
It was unclear why the two men had chosen to express remorse now, but Lars Olsen, a court spokesman, welcomed the admission.
 
"Many victims have waited more than 30 years to hear any statement of apology or regret from leadership figures in the Khmer Rouge," he said.
 
However, Khieu Samphan continued to insist he was simply a figurehead of the regime and knew nothing about its murderous side.
 
"Looking at it from outside, people might assume that I was the big leader. Really, I just had big status, I had no real power to arrest anyone. I have no knowledge of the people's living conditions," he said.
 
The court, operated jointly by Cambodia and the United Nations, was set up in 2005 with the aim of trying "those most responsible'' for the bloodshed.
 
To date, it has delivered one verdict, a life sentence given to Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, chief of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, a converted Phnom Penh school where as many as 14,000 people may have been executed.
 
The current trial opened in June 2011 with four people in the dock — Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was social affairs minister in the Khmer Rouge government.
 
Ieng Thirith, a sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998, was declared unfit to stand trial last year because she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Ieng Sary died in March.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid