Two Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide

Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide that killed millions

Phnom Penh: Two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge have been found guilty of genocide and forced marriage during the brutal regime which claimed the lives of 1.7 million people, an global tribunal has found in a historic decision handed down in Phnom Penh on Friday.

The Khmer Rouge's former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and "Brother Number 2" Nuon Chea, 92, are the two most senior living members of the ultra-Maoist group that seized control of Cambodia from 1975-1979.

Although the widespread slaughter that rent Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 is often called a "genocide" - known as the "crime of all crimes" - the loaded charge carries a narrow legal definition.

Specifically, Friday's verdict establishes that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide against the country's Vietnamese and Cham minorities.

Two million Cambodians dead from overwork, starvation and mass executions but Friday's ruling was the first to acknowledge a genocide.

Khieu Samphan, former Khmer Rouge head of state, sits in a court room before a hearing at the UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.

The crimes against humanity convictions covered activities at work camps and cooperatives established by the Khmer Rouge. "These offenses comprised murder, extermination, deportation, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, persecution on political, religious and racial grounds, attacks on human dignity, enforced disappearances, forced transfers, forced marriages and rape".

A large crowd of spectators attended Friday's session, including members of the Cham minority. His life was spared only because he was a skilled mechanic who could maintain engines and generators for his captors.

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The Phnom Penh Post tweeted early Friday local time that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal found that the party carried out genocide against Vietnamese and Muslim Cham people while it was in power.

Lah Sath said his younger brother was killed by Khmer Rouge for failing to take good care of a cow. "The verdict was fair enough for me and other Cambodian victims", he said.

The number of allegations against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan was so vast the court split the trials into a series of smaller hearings in 2011.

There are fears that politics will thwart the tribunal from undertaking any further prosecutions.

The Khmer Rouge came to power in the instability that swept through Southeast Asia in the wake of the Vietnam War.

It's been nearly four decades since the Khmer Rouge were in power in Cambodia, reigning with a ruthlessness that left as many as 1.7 million people dead. The other two died during the proceedings.

"International tribunals are better than the alternative, impunity". "But justice is usually delivered, even if at times, as has been the case with the ECCC, it staggers across the finish line".

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