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 Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


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