News / Asia

Genocide Trial of Khmer Rouge Leaders Likely Delayed Until 2012

Former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith sits at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, June 29, 2011.
Former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith sits at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, June 29, 2011.
Robert Carmichael

Court sources and observers in Cambodia say the genocide trial of four surviving Khmer Rouge is now likely to be delayed once again.

That follows an acknowledgment by the Khmer Rouge tribunal that one of the defendants requires psychiatric tests to determine her fitness to stand trial.

The court is no stranger to delay, but recent events have revealed yet another possible suspension in the proceedings against four surviving Khmer Rouge leaders.

Late last year, court officials were predicting that the trial for Case 002 would begin by mid-2011. But the recent confirmation that former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith needs a psychiatric assessment means it is now unlikely to start before January.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen says next week, the court will discuss recent medical reports examining the physical abilities of three defendants to stand trial. But the doctor who carried out those examinations has also recommended that Ieng Thirith have a psychiatric assessment.

“And this is what the Trial Chamber will in the very near future do, Olsen says. "They will appoint international and national psychiatric expertise to conduct a further assessment on Ieng Thirith’s fitness to stand trial.”

All of that will take time. It will likely be months before the psychiatric report is finalized, discussed and then ruled on by the tribunal. Because the court wants to try the defendants together, the case cannot start until Ieng Thirith is declared mentally fit or unfit to stand trial.

Anne Heindel, legal adviser at Phnom Penh-based genocide research organization DC-Cam, explains the legal principle behind being found unfit for trial.

“It’s not just a medical assessment," Heindel says.  "It’s the legal evaluation of a medical assessment. Can you participate in your defense? Can you instruct your counsel? Do you understand what your plea means? Do you understand what’s going on in the proceedings?"

If Ieng Thirith is found to be unfit for trial, Anne Heindel adds, that could mean a temporary or even a permanent suspension of the case against her, depending on how she responds to treatment.

“The hope is always that with medical assistance somebody could then become fit for trial, and the trial could proceed at that point," she says. "With mental illness, if that’s what it is, it’s obviously much less certain than with a physical ailment and harder to judge.” L-R: Former President Khieu Samphan, ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith and "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea. (Reuters)

The other former leaders facing trial are: Nuon Chea, who was deputy to the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot; Khieu Samphan, the regime’s head of state; and Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister.

All four deny charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen says at this stage it is not possible to say when their trial will start.

“The Trial Chamber is trying the best to start the trial this year, but it’s not possible to schedule the start of the hearing of evidence before the fitness issue has been dealt with, and also some other preliminary objections," says Olsen. "So we don’t know.”

Every delay reduces the chances for a successful trial because of the ages of the defendants. The youngest of them is 79 years old and the longer their trial drags on, the greater the chance that health problems could disrupt the proceedings.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
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 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 '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 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.

VOA Blogs