News / Asia

Former Khmer Rouge Official to Appeal Conviction

FILE - Former Khmer Rouge leaders Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan in court.
FILE - Former Khmer Rouge leaders Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan in court.

Cambodian defense attorneys for former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea say he was not involved in at least one of the crimes he was found guilty of and they plan to appeal.

Nuon Chea is on trial alongside Khieu Samphan for atrocity crimes. Both men were already handed life sentences by the court after the first of two phases in their trial, and they are facing more charges as the final phase gets under way later this year.

But defense lawyers for Nuon Chea say he was not involved in the mass killings of some 10,000 people, including soldiers of the Lon Nol regime, at a place called Tuol Porchrey in Pursat province. This was one of the crimes he was found guilty of in the first phase of the trial, which focused on the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh and the early days of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Documentary filmmaker Thet Sambath, who has interviewed Nuon Chea extensively, says his research shows the former leaders were not involved in the mass killings there.

“The verdict should be reversed. Investigations must be done properly to secure the truth if the court wants to be fair. So far I see that the court is not fair. In the agreement between the Royal Government and the U.N., the Court already has decided who and what countries should and shouldn’t be summoned," said Sambath.

Defense attorney Victor Koppe says the defense has filed a request with the Supreme Court Chamber of the tribunal to present evidence based on Thet Sambath’s research and is seeking an acquittal for the crimes at Tuol Porchrey.

He blamed the killings there on infighting between Khmer Rouge soldiers and their local leaders, not the orders of Nuon Chea or Khieu Samphan.

“The ones who are responsible for what happened in Tuol Por Chhrey is the group which was under the leadership of Ros Nhem and Sor Phim. They were the ones involved in the executions and certainly not Nuon Chea and certainly not Khieu Samphan either," said Koppe.

He said he heard about the new evidence after listening to Thet Sambath's interview this week with VOA's Khmer service.

Thet Sambath says his interest is in ensuring the truth of the regime be on the public record, and not just for Tuol Porchrey.

However, Peter Maguire, a legal scholar who has written a book about the Khmer Rouge, says Noun Chea faces a number of charges and his case is unlikely to be reheard.

“What I mean is that one massacre was not the only crime that the defendants were accused of. So, again the defense lawyers are doing their jobs, but I think for the U.N. to overreact to this would be a huge mistake," said Maguire.

In the second phase of the trial, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are facing charges for atrocity crimes including genocide, allegedly 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.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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 Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
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.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs