Tribunal upholds sentence of last surviving Khmer Rouge leader

Khieu Samphan

A United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia upheld the sentence of the last surviving Khmer Rouge genocide leader. The 91-year-old Khieu Samphan had appealed the sentence but the court wasn’t having it. In 2018, Samphan and another top-ranking official named Nuon Chea, who died in 2019, were sentenced to life imprisonment after the court found them guilty of crimes against humanity. They were also found guilty of leading the genocide of ethnic minority Vietnamese and Muslim Chams.

In 2010, Kaing Guek Eav, the head of the infamous S-21 prison was also sentenced to 35 years in prison. He died in 2020. The sentences were handed down after 16 years of negotiations between the UN and the Cambodian government. The result of those negotiations produced the Khmer Rouge tribunal in 2006, which was officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

But the tribunal wasn’t without criticism as it was viewed by many as being overly politicised, while allegedly being focused on only a few of the former regime members. One example of its supposed collusion, is that of the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, being a former Khmer Rouge cadre before defecting. Noan Sereiboth, a political blogger made the inference to the tribunal’s questionable success.

“It has had limited success with alleged political interference…Not all the truth was revealed.”

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Even more, criticism continued as the amount spent on the tribunal appeared to be quite imbalanced to the number of those convicted. Just three people were convicted by the tribunal. But, supporters were quick to point out that several of the Khmer Rouge leaders died before the tribunal began or while standing trial. The regime’s notorious premier, Pol Pot, was one of those who didn’t make it to see his sentencing.

Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge saw more than 1.7 million Cambodians killed by execution, starvation, and torture. The genocide took roughly a quarter of the population’s lives.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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