Nation & World News

Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders Found Guilty Of Crimes Against Humanity

By Eyder Peralta on August 7th, 2014

Two senior Khmer Rouge leaders were found guilty of crimes against humanity in Cambodia on Thursday.

As The New York Times explains, the verdict, handed down by a joint Cambodian and United Nations tribunal, is the first against top leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.

Nuon Chea, the chief lieutenant of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and Khieu Samphan, who acted as head of state for the Maoist regime, were sentenced to life in prison.

The Times adds:

“The chief judge, Nil Nonn, said the court found that there had been ‘a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Cambodia’ and that the two former leaders were part of a ‘joint criminal enterprise’ that bore responsibility. They were convicted of murder and extermination, among other crimes.

“More than 1.7 million people died under Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 and 1979.

“The proceedings of the tribunal … have been criticized as being extremely belated and for covering only a narrow sliver of the crimes perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. The judgments against Nuon Chea, 88, and Khieu Samphan, 83, were the first to be handed down against the Khmer Rouge leadership, although a lower-ranking official, who ran a notorious prison for the regime in Phnom Penh, was convicted in 2010. Both senior leaders will file appeals, their lawyers said Thursday.”

Back in May, the Two-Way reported that both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan apologized for their role in the killings during the trial, but they said they were not aware of the full extent of the killings. Here’s more on the background:

“Pol Pot was able to exploit instability created by the Vietnam War to overthrow a weak U.S.-backed government in Cambodia in 1975. Inspired by the forced collectivization policies of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, Pol Pot then embarked on a bloody restructuring of society aimed at his vision of a utopian, agrarian state. As many as 2 million people were executed or died of disease, starvation or overwork in the regime’s ‘killing fields.’

“In 1979, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and pushed Pol Pot and his remaining followers into the jungle, where they fought an unsuccessful insurgency for the next two decades. Pol Pot died in 1998 under suspicious circumstances.”

The Guardian reports that following the verdict, Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the court, called the day “historic.”

“The victims have waited 35 years for legal accountability, and now that the tribunal has rendered a judgment, it is a clear milestone,” Olsen said.

The Guardian adds: “A group of 10 victims represented by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) praised the court’s decision, saying: ‘We will finally be able to mourn our relatives. It was important for us to see those who planned and ordered these crimes be held to account.’ ”

We’ll leave you with video of the verdict being read and then the reaction:

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

A 2011 Subaru Legacy is among the nine vehicles that were found to have zero driver fatalities in a new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Car Safety Improves: Study Lists Those With Most, And Least, Driver Deaths

For 2011 models through the 2012 calendar year, driver deaths per million registered vehicle years fell to 28 from 48 just three years earlier, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


David Silva, who owed about $30,000 in court fines and fees, says that a lot of his financial burden fell on his family and friends.

Study Finds Court Fees Also Punish The Families Of Those Who Owe

The Center for Community Alternatives says that formerly incarcerated men and women rely heavily upon family, almost always receiving cash from them.


Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon speaks Thursday to faculty and students about changes planned for the Ivy League school. Dartmouth banned hard liquor on campus and said all students will have to take part in a sexual violence prevention program all four years they are enrolled at the Ivy League school.

Dartmouth Bans Hard Liquor On Campus

The Ivy League school is also introducing a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program for students. The steps are part of efforts to reform social life at the college.


Genetically modified rice plants are shown in a lab in 2006. A new report from Pew Research shows a wide gap between perceptions of safety of GM foods between scientists and the general public.

Scientists, General Public Have Divergent Views On Science, Report Says

A Pew Research Center study shows that the two groups disagree most strongly on the safety of GM foods, the use of animals in research, climate change and human evolution.


A photo taken in October and provided by Britain's Royal Air Force shows a Russian "Bear" bomber similar to the one that grazed U.K. airspace on Wednesday.

British Fighters ‘Escort’ Russian Bombers Near U.K. Airspace

A pair of Russian “Bear” bombers flew alarmingly close to British airspace on Wednesday. London has asked Moscow to explain the incident.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments