7 Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Will Face Trials For Crimes Against Humanity

Posted by khmernews on July 17, 2007

Chey Sachakk
At least seven former Khmer Rouge leaders will stand before upcoming trials for crimes against humanity in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). According to Stephen Heder, political scientist and researcher of the Cambodian history, seven former Khmer Rouge candidates who will be brought to justice in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Sou Met, Meah Mut, and other two Ta Mok and Kae Pok, who already died of illnesses.

In August 2001, the Cambodian National Assembly adopted the bills on the establishment of the ECCC. The first article of the law states that the prosecution will be held on two groups of former Khmer Rouge leaders: (1) senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea, and (2) people who were most responsible for crimes committed between April 17, 1975 and January 6, 1979.

At that time, Former King Norodom Sihanouk endorsed the stated law. However, the general public has noticed that although the law has been adopted, the former Khmer Rouge leaders for the prosecution still haven’t been determined. This has caused speculations among Cambodian people.

According to international criminal law which was practiced in the international criminal courts in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, the senior leaders [determined for trials] included civil and military leaders whose roles were to make policies and who knew about the crimes but failed to take actions against those crimes which happened during their regime while people most responsible were those who ordered the lower levels to commit crimes, those to facilitated the crimes and those who organized and committed crimes.

Regarding the trials of people responsible for the “Killing Fields” regime in Cambodia, it’s said that at least seven former Khmer Rouge leaders will be prosecuted in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Based on peace and national reconciliation policies, the government’s and tribunal’s officials have told victims that the ECCC will prosecute 5 to 10 Khmer Rouge leaders. NGOs’ lawyers accept that there is no clear ground for determining the number and the [characteristics] of the former Khmer Rouge who will face charges.

However, it is explained that the co-prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal must scrutinize the Political Office of the [Communist Party of Kampuchea], the Standing Committee, and the Central Committee and must find out how much they were responsible and which committee was most responsible.

In June, 2007, Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s co-prosecutors Chea Leang and Robert Petit said in the adoption of the internal rules that investigating warrants would be issued soon. 

Meanwhile, the observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal said that Kang Kek Ieu, former chief of S-21 torture center, known as Tuol Sleng prison, could be the first to be prosecuted. Concerning the problem, Lawyer Sok Samoeun claimed that co-prosecutors have the roles to say whether or not they prosecute Duch since now Duch is already in jail.

Lawyer Sok Samoeun said that the crimes of the Khmer Rouge were widespread around the country, and that so the co-prosecutors and co-investigating judges must examine the crimes which had been occurred in order to determine people most responsible for atrocities.

However, the general public could see that although it has been ruled that former Khmer Rouge leaders and people most responsible will be prosecuted, it’s not believed that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal give what victims of the Killing Fields regime have been waiting for since the tribunal always faces problems.

Having seen the present situation, a former prisoner in Tuol Sleng prison has expressed his hopelessness on the dragging Khmer Rouge trials.

Van Nath, former prisoner in Tuol Sleng prison, said July 12 in a press conference that he had become hopeless with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal which had been established by the UN and the Cambodian government since there had been many problems with it and it could not find justice for victims.

“I have completely lost hope with the ECCC because it’s been 30 years. Many people who survived and waited to see justice are rapidly dying,” said the former Tuol Sleng prisoner.

“This court has faced problems continuously, so I don’t hope that the court will be able to give justice to me as a victim. Moreover, I’ve heard that it is running out of money. The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has 3 years, but now it has spent almost 2 years. Therefore, the court will not have enough time for the prosecution of the former Khmer Rouge leaders,” stressed Van Nath.

This is an opinion of a former Tuol Sleng victim who has lost faith on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and there are many other Cambodian victims who are disappointed with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal which has spent time and funds uselessly.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, vol.14, #3210, Saturday-Sunday, July 14-15, 2007. 


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