Thursday, September 16, 2010
The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia dealing with mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago indicted four of the regime’s top officials today.
Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea – the four most senior members of the Democratic Kampuchea regime who are still alive – will now be tried before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for crimes against humanity, genocide, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, as well as for violations of the 1956 Cambodian penal code, including murder, torture and religious persecution.
Ieng Sary served as foreign minister under the Khmer Rouge, while his wife Ieng Thirith was social action minister. Khieu Samphan served as head of State and Nuon Chea was known as “Brother Number Two.”
In its first verdict handed down in July, the ECCC found Kaing Guek Eav guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Also known as Duch, the head of a notorious detention camp run by the Khmer Rouge was given a 35-year prison term, but last month, the tribunal’s prosecutors appealed the sentence, saying that it “gives insufficient weight to the gravity of [his] crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes.”
As many as 2.2 million people are believed to have died during the 1975-79 rule of the Khmer Rouge, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.
Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.
(From a UN Press Release)
I have written an article that discusses the rights of victims before the ECCC. The article will be published next month in L'Observateur des Nations Unies. Click here for more information.