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.
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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs