News / Asia

Khmer Rouge Court to Try Former Leaders Crime by Crime

This combo shows file photos of the four top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime from left to right: Nuon Chea, the group's ideologist; former head of state and public face of the regime, Khieu Samphan, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; and his w
This combo shows file photos of the four top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime from left to right: Nuon Chea, the group's ideologist; former head of state and public face of the regime, Khieu Samphan, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; and his w
Robert Carmichael

The Khmer Rouge tribunal said Thursday it would try the four elderly leaders of the ultra-Maoist movement that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 on a charge-by-charge basis. The decision means the tribunal will conduct a series of smaller trials of all four defendants, rather than one long and complicated trial.

The decision by the United Nations-backed court means the tribunal will divide the complex multiple charges against the four accused into segments.  The four are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and an array of crimes under Cambodian law.  What will now take place is a series of smaller trials in which specific charges against the four, and evidence related to those charges, will be heard. The court will start with the charge of crimes against humanity.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen says the decision means the court will hand down verdicts against the elderly defendants as the trial proceeds rather than waiting until the end of a multi-year process to deliver a single verdict.  Olsen says this will safeguard the interests of the victims in trying to obtain justice in a timely manner as well as the rights of the accused to an expeditious trial.  He says other international tribunals of similar complexity have taken up to 10 years to reach a verdict.

Clair Duffy, who monitors the tribunal for the Open Society Justice Initiative, explains the significance of Thursday’s decision.

“It basically means that what we’re going to see is a much more focused and condensed trial take place next year - and that’ll be a portion of the indictment against these four accused people. A number of allegations but discrete ones," said Duffy. "They’ll kick off with that, and I expect that we’ll see a judgment possibly in 12-18 months on the first segment of the trial.”

The U.N.-backed court has said many times that Case Two, as the trial of the leaders is known, is the most complex since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg.  The four on trial are: Nuon Chea, who was deputy to the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot; Khieu Samphan, the regime’s head of state; Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister; and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was the social affairs minister.

All four deny the charges against them.

The youngest defendant is 79, and the longer their trial drags on, the greater the chance that health problems could disrupt proceedings.

Duffy says that will have been at the forefront of the court’s mind. Other tribunals have seen elderly defendants die during trial without a verdict being delivered.  The most prominent of those was the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 while on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

“What we’ve seen is aged people or ailing people being prosecuted who have died during proceedings that have lasted years and years after there has been a lot of investment on many levels in those cases. So I would say one of the main reasons would be to try and circumvent that if possible,” said Duffy.

Not everyone will be satisfied with the decision. The first array of charges will deal with crimes against humanity, but will not cover those crimes as they relate to persecution on religious grounds.

The first trial segment also will not examine the charge of war crimes or the charge of genocide, which in the Cambodian context refers to the Khmer Rouge’s killings of Cham Muslim people and ethnic Vietnamese.  All of those charges will be dealt with later once the first trial segment is completed.

It isn’t perfect, but the court has little choice. Some of the defendants are ailing, all are old, and the clock is ticking for this tribunal to deliver justice in whatever limited time it has left.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid