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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid