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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    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 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 Rapides’ 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora