Cambodia’s United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal issued its final verdict on Thursday, upholding the genocide and life sentences imposed on the last surviving leader. of the mode.
The court ruled on the appeal of Khieu Samphan, the head of state over the murderous communist regime that wiped out a quarter of Cambodia’s population in less than four years in the 1970s.
This is the final judgment that will be made by the court worth more than 330 million USD and prosecute only 5 Khmer Rouge leaders, 2 of whom died during the proceedings.
“The Supreme Court found no argument in Khieu Samphan’s arguments regarding genocide and dismissed them,” Chief Justice Kong Srim said in the lengthy ruling.
The court also upheld the 2018 sentence against the 91-year-old man for multiple crimes against humanity – including murder, torture and enslavement – on the basis of a “common criminal enterprise”, even when he did not participate in all crimes.
But it overturned charges of some specific counts of murder and persecution.
The mixed tribunal, with both Cambodian and international judges, was established to try the senior leaders of the Maoist genocidal extremism regime, which wiped out an estimated two million people through starvation, torture, forced labor and mass executions during the 1975-1979 rule. .
Regime leader Pol Pot, known as “Brother Number One”, never faced justice, died in 1998 before the court was established.
The genocide verdict is related to the persecution of ethnic Vietnamese people, seen by the Khmer Rouge as a treacherous enemy within.
The chief justice said the charges relate to “some of the most appalling events” during the Khmer Rouge’s bloody rule.
The sick Khieu Samphan sat huddled in a wheelchair in the dock, listening intently to the lengthy verdict through headphones.
About 500 people gathered in the courtroom to hear the verdict, including Khmer Rouge survivors, Buddhist monks, diplomats and government officials.
“I want justice for all the victims because we have suffered so much. The Pol Pot regime is brutal,” You Soeun, 67, told AFP.
Along with Khieu Samphan in the 2018 case, “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea was also sentenced to life in prison for genocide and other charges, including forced marriage and rape.
Nuon Chea passed away in 2019.
Both men were sentenced to life in prison by a court in 2014 for crimes against humanity in another case involving the violent forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975, when the army The Khmer Rouge pushed the people of the capital into rural labor camps.
The only person found guilty by the special court was Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, the head of the infamous S-21 torture interrogation center where some 18,000 people were murdered.
Like Nuon Chea, Duch also died a few years after his conviction.
While the court, officially known as the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), has secured several convictions, experts say it has done valuable work in promoting civil reconciliation. ethnicity.
In previous appeals hearings, Khieu Samphan’s lawyers accused the court of taking a “selective approach” to testimony and using legal criteria he was unable to know when the court heard. the alleged crime took place more than 40 years ago.
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