News / Asia

Khmer Rouge Genocide: Justice Delayed may be Justice Denied

A Cambodian gestures outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) courtroom during the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders on the outskirts of Phnom Penh Jan. 10, 2012.A Cambodian gestures outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) courtroom during the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders on the outskirts of Phnom Penh Jan. 10, 2012.
x
A Cambodian gestures outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) courtroom during the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders on the outskirts of Phnom Penh Jan. 10, 2012.
A Cambodian gestures outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) courtroom during the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders on the outskirts of Phnom Penh Jan. 10, 2012.
Reuters
Under Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge, Meas Mut and Sou Met, now two-star generals in their 80s, are said to have hauled prisoners to S-21, a torture center that symbolized the horrors of a regime that wiped out nearly a quarter of the population.
 
Another soldier, Im Chaem, now a Buddhist nun in her 60s, is suspected of running a forced labour camp where fellow Khmer Rouge cadres Ta An and Ta Tith oversaw massacres in the ``Killing Fields'' revolution of 1975-79.
 
Those allegations, contained in cases known as 003 and 004 at a UN-backed tribunal, are plunging Cambodia into soul searching over how far to pursue war-crimes accusations against former commanders, some of whom now occupy senior roles in government.
 
They are also fuelling criticism of the United Nations over whether its cash-strapped joint Cambodian tribunal will ever deliver justice for victims of the ultra-Maoist regime that tore Cambodia apart and was responsible for up to 2.2 million deaths.
 
The European Union, the second-biggest donor after Japan, has called on Cambodia to come up with more funding for the tribunal, where some workers went on strike last week after going for more than two months without pay. Cambodia says it has given more than its fair share and has appealed for bigger donations.
 
The tribunal's new American judge, Mark Harmon, said last month he wanted to reopen case 003 involving former Khmer Rouge navy chief Meas Mut and former air force chief Sou Met.
 
That puts him on a collision course with authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been accused of interfering to limit probes that could implicate powerful politicians. Meas Mut and Sou Met are now advisers to the Defense Ministry.
 
Hun Sen, a close ally of China which was a key supporter of the Khmer Rouge during the ``Killing Fields'' years, has vowed to prevent new indictments and has said he would be happy if the United Nations left Cambodia. He was himself a Khmer Rouge fighter before defecting to Vietnam, which invaded Cambodia and toppled Pol Pot's regime in 1979.
 
Almost every Cambodian alive lost a family member under the Khmer Rouge. Many fear the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC), which began work in 2006 after an agreement between the Cambodian government and the United Nations to try those “most responsible” for the killings, will fail to bring justice.
 
The court, dogged from the outset by allegations of corruption, political interference and profligacy, had spent $175.3 million by the end of last year and handed down just one conviction - that of S-21's former prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, alias “Duch”, who was jailed for life for the deaths of more than 14,000 people. He has repeatedly said he was ``just following orders''.
 
Now on trial in the court's second case, known as 002, are the only remaining members of the inner circle of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998: chief ideologue Nuon Chea, 86, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, 87, and head of state Khieu Samphan, 81. They may not live to hear the verdicts. Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea have been in and out of hospital for years.
 
Most of the suspects live in isolation away from the capital and have not talked about the accusations in public.
 
While Hun Sen's government has done little to stop case 002, it has reason to be concerned with 003 and 004: some government officials occupied Khmer Rouge positions similar to those held by the suspects.
 
Case “Remains Open”
 
Harmon said case 003 ``remains open and the investigation of the alleged crimes is proceeding'' against members of Khmer Rouge navy and air force units for atrocities.
 
Harmon, who arrived late last year after two predecessors quit in quick succession, has urged victims of the crimes alleged in 003 or people with knowledge of them to come forward.
 
Case 004, involving Im Chaem, Ta An and Ta Tith, was also under investigation by judges, the court said. Ta Tith is now a wealthy businessman.
 
The third and fourth cases have faced obstacles almost from the day they were initiated in 2008. Investigators and the public have struggled to gain access to case information, while financial difficulties threaten to shut the court down.
 
One former judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet of Switzerland, resigned a year ago after finding himself in ``a highly hostile environment'' with Cambodian judge You Bunleng, whom he accused of blocking investigations.
 
The cases would continue to divide the court, said Anne Heindel, an American lawyer and legal adviser to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge atrocities.
 
“If (case 003) ever gets to trial chamber, it will be a new mess,” she said.
 
Before Kasper-Ansermet resigned, he said four senior members of Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) should be interviewed in connection with possible war crimes.
 
He identified National Assembly President Heng Samrin as a Khmer Rouge division commander when crimes were committed against Vietnamese civilians in 1977 and 1978, a court document showed.
 
The document also recommended interviewing Senate and CPP President Chea Sim, Senator Ouk Bunchhoeun and armed forces chief Pol Saroeun.
 
Kasper-Ansermet said investigators had discovered the Khmer Rouge attacked undefended villages and slaughtered whole families.
 
Prosecutors decided not to pursue these allegations, saying they had already been investigated as part of case 002 and were unrelated to 003.
 
“We are not interfering with the ECCC's work but facilitating them,” said Cambodian government spokesman Ek Tha, who denied “any influence or authority whatsoever” over the court.
 
“Hun Sen decides everything in this country,” said Henri Locard, a French historian of modern Cambodia who interviewed Im Chaem two years ago.
 
“I am protected by Hun Sen and I've done nothing,” Locard quoted her as saying.
 
International donors, who already give Cambodia about $1 billion a year in aid, were reluctant to fund the controversial third and fourth cases, said Heindel, preferring the court to wind down with the second case as a successful legacy.
 
That case was suspended on March 4 when 20 court translators went on strike over unpaid wages.
 
Many Cambodians now accept that further Khmer Rouge prosecutions are unlikely.
 
“We want all people to stand trial but it's useless because it's up to this dictatorial government to decide,” said Lorm Vichey, 57, who lost his mother and three brothers under the Khmer Rouge. “What can we do?”

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ian from: USA
March 11, 2013 1:13 PM
1) 1 billion in aid from international donors (Japan & EU)
2) 175 millions for just "ONE" conviction of a genocide murderer, and not even a death sentence, just a life sentence , what a farce
3) and they don't even pay the court workers for 2 months ! how did they spend that 175 millions ?
The cambodian communist thugs that now in the government play the international donors like a fool .I suggest the EU & Japan to keep the money at home to help their own jobless citizens & revive their own economy .It is time for the cambodians who had their relatives killed during the genocide to take the law in their own hands . If they could killed 2 millions innocent peoples during the genocide , I am sure they can execute a few hundreds mastermind criminals if they want to .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid