News / Asia

Prosecutors Seek Life Term for Ex-Khmer Rouge Leaders

People line up to enter the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia as a television screen shows former Khmer Rouge  president Khieu Samphan, near Phnom Penh, October 21, 2013.
People line up to enter the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia as a television screen shows former Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan, near Phnom Penh, October 21, 2013.
Robert Carmichael
Prosecutors at Cambodia’s war crimes court asked judges on Monday to hand down a life term against two ex-leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Their request comes in the closing days of the first of at least two expected trials of these defendants, whose regime is blamed for the deaths of 2 million people.
 
After a trial that has lasted nearly two years, the prosecution concluded Monday that the defendants, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, were central to a regime that had turned Cambodia into a “slave state unparalleled in the modern era."
 
Prosecutor Chea Leang said both defendants had lied to the court, shown no remorse or regret, and refused to take responsibility for the crimes with which the evidence had shown they were guilty. As a result, she added, the prosecution saw no grounds for a reduction in the penalty.
 
“The prosecution requests the Trial Chamber and Your Honors to punish the accused, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, for life imprisonment, which is the only punishment that they deserve and that is the international standard for these crimes as well," said the prosecutor though an interpretor.
 
There is no death penalty in Cambodia’s courts.
 
Nuon Chea, known as "Brother Number Two," was deputy to the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and is widely regarded as the movement’s chief ideologue.
 
Khieu Samphan was head of state of the government known as Democratic Kampuchea, which ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

The indictment against the two elderly defendants includes charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Both men have denied all charges. The case is so complex that the court has divided it into a number of mini-trials. This month sees the end of the hearings in the first of those.
 
The initial mini-trial has focused mainly on crimes against humanity in two forced movements of people: the first when the Khmer Rouge emptied all urban areas, including Phnom Penh in April 1975, and later, when hundreds of thousands of people were forced to move across the country. The trial also considered one instance of mass killings, when hundreds of soldiers and officials from the defeated Lon Nol regime were executed in 1975.
 
A second mini-trial, should it ever proceed, will examine allegations of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity in a bid to ensure that the court assesses a range of charges more representative of the Cambodian people’s suffering.
 
In this photo released Cambodia's war crimes court, Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea listens to testimony during his trial in Phnom Penh, Mar. 20, 2012.In this photo released Cambodia's war crimes court, Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea listens to testimony during his trial in Phnom Penh, Mar. 20, 2012.
x
In this photo released Cambodia's war crimes court, Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea listens to testimony during his trial in Phnom Penh, Mar. 20, 2012.
In this photo released Cambodia's war crimes court, Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea listens to testimony during his trial in Phnom Penh, Mar. 20, 2012.
On Monday, Prosecutor William Smith said the thousands of deaths that had resulted from the forced evacuation of every one of the two million residents of Phnom Penh when the Khmer Rouge took control were fully predictable, adding that there was no basis in international law for the movement to have acted in that way.
 
“It is clear that the forced transfer itself was a crime against humanity.

"Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan planned and ordered the removal of millions of people from their lawful residences in Phnom Penh without permissible grounds and did not allow them to return to their homes for the whole time that they were in power," said Smith.
 
The prosecution holds that the evidence showed both defendants were deeply implicated in the decisions by the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) to forcibly move people as well as in the policy to execute perceived enemies of the revolution.
 
Also Monday, Smith dismissed Nuon Chea’s claims that he had no real power and that he was not responsible for atrocities. The prosecution was equally withering about Khieu Samphan’s claims that he did not know crimes had taken place. Khieu Samphan, said Smith, was a man “with much to hide."
 
“To this day Khieu Samphan seeks to present himself as a man of integrity, honesty, an intellectual," he said. "A man who was different from the other leaders. He says those other leaders kept him in the dark, he says he did not ask questions because he respected the CPK rule of secrecy, and Pol Pot used him as a figurehead."

Smith continued, "Somehow this unlucky pawn found himself at the pinnacle of a slave state, a member of the most secretive and powerful bodies of the CPK, surrounded by mass murder and yet completely unaware of what was happening around him. The only man in all of Cambodia who knew nothing, saw nothing, and heard nothing.”
 
The case against the ex-leaders of the Khmer Rouge began its hearings in late 2011 with four defendants, but only two remain after one died and another was ruled unfit for trial due to dementia.
 
Defense teams are expected to address the court in the coming days before the judges retire to consider a verdict, which is expected by the middle of next year.

You May Like

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursionsi
X
Zlatica Hoke
August 28, 2014 4:07 AM
Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursions

Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid