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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs