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

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.