PHNOM PENH – Last week, around four decades after a Vietnamese invasion ended the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a United Nations-backed court found genocidal leader Pol Pot’s surviving henchmen guilty of genocide and sentenced both men to life imprisonment.
PHNOM PENH — Guilty verdicts in the genocide trial of Pol Pot’s senior henchmen has brought the curtain down on the main act of a controversial tribunal that has lasted more than a decade, cost more than $300 million and is finally nearing an end.
A U.N.-backed court found the surviving senior leaders of Pol Pot’s dreaded Khmer Rouge regime guilty of genocide on Nov. 16, before a packed gallery of Muslim Chams, ethnic Vietnamese and Buddhist clergy.
The man ultimately responsible for the deaths of two Australian yachtsmen who were killed by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, has been found guilty of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment.
A UN-backed tribunal on Friday – for the first time – found that the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia was guilty of genocide. It made the ruling against the two surviving leaders – Nuon Chea, who is 92, and 87-year-old Khieu Sampan. RTHK’s correspondent in Phnom Penh, Luke Hunt explained the significance of the ruling to AnneMarie Evans
A verdict in the genocide trial of Pol Pot’s surviving henchmen is due next week and the findings by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will have far-reaching legal ramifications for future tribunals.
Regardless of the verdict, Nuon Chea, known as Brother Number Two, and former head of state Khieu Samphan will remain behind bars because of earlier convictions for crimes against humanity, as will Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, former commandant of the S-21 prison.
But genocide convictions are rare in international courts. They have remained the holy grail for prosecutors since 2006, when the first judges were sworn in at the ECCC, amid hopes that some kind of justice would be found for the two million victims of the Khmer Rouge.
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has set November 16 as the date for a verdict in the genocide trial of Pol Pot’s surviving henchmen. It promises to be a big day for those of us who have covered and written about it for two decades, since it was first officially requested. Background Reading.