Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Defendants Deny Charges

Former Khmer Rouge leader ''Brother Number Two'' Nuon Chea (C), is seen at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), in the outskirts of Phnom Penh in this handout picture dated October 31, 2013.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia October 31, 2013 (AP)

By JUSTINE DRENNAN Associated Press 

The last two surviving leaders of Cambodia's radical Khmer Rouge regime still on trial for genocide and other war crimes issued their final defense Thursday, distancing themselves from the deaths of more than 1.7 million people who died during their rule.

Former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and 82-year-old Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, both made lengthy closing statements at the U.N.-backed tribunal in the capital, Phnom Penh.

A verdict is not expected in the case until the first half of next year, more than two years after the trial began.

Shortly after seizing Phnom Penh in April 1975, the Khmer Rouge forced an estimated 1 million people — even hospital patients — out of the capital, herding them en masse into the countryside in an effort to create a communist agrarian utopia.

By the time the bizarre experiment ended in 1979 with a Vietnamese invasion, close to 2 million people were dead, most from starvation, medical neglect, slave-like working conditions and execution. Their bodies were dumped in shallow mass graves that still dot the country today.

"It is easy to say that I should have known everything, I should have understood everything, and thus I could have intervened or rectified the situation at the time," Khieu Samphan defiantly told the court. "Do you really think that that was what I wanted to happen to my people?"

"The reality was that I did not have any power," he said.

Nuon Chea also defended his actions, saying he never ordered Khmer Rouge cadres "to mistreat or kill people to deprive them of food or commit any genocide."

Unlike Khieu Samphan, however, Nuon Chea accepted "moral responsibility" for the deaths, repeating previous efforts to distance himself from actual crimes.

"I would like to sincerely apologize to the public, the victims, the families, and all Cambodian people," said the frail former leader, speaking steadily as he read from pages of notes. "I wish to show my remorse and pray for the lost souls that occurred by any means" during the Khmer Rouge rule.

Nuon Chea's words are unlikely to be any consolation for survivors, hundreds of whom crowded the courtroom and the tribunal's grounds.

"He is just trying to cheat the court so that he can be freed," said Bin Siv Lang, a 56-year-old woman who lost 11 relatives during the Khmer Rouge rule. "If he issued no orders to kill people, his subordinates would not have killed."

Death and disability have robbed the tribunal of other defendants. Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary died in March, and his wife Ieng Thirith, the regime's social affairs minister, was declared unfit for trial in September 2012 after being diagnosed with dementia. The group's top leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

The tribunal, launched in 2006, so far has convicted only one defendant, Khmer Rouge prison director Kaing Guek Eav, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011.

The present trial's focus is on the forced movement of people and excludes some of the gravest charges related to genocide, detention centers and killings.

Nuon Chea said he believed his trial proved he "was not engaged in any commission of the crimes as alleged by the co-prosecutors. ... In short, I am innocent."

Khieu Samphan said bitterly that he had lost faith in the tribunal because "no matter how hard I try to explain, they (the court's judges) will only turn their deaf ears at me."

"It is clear that everyone wants only one thing from me — that is, my admission of guilt ... concerning the acts that I have never ever committed at all."

Associated Press Writer Sopheng Cheang contributed to this report.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

All Khmer for the democracy must also be firm along with the leaders, in order for overcoming the aggression of the today unfair society, that's formed organized by the lawlessness colonized government!

Stimulated ourselves, as we all Khmer!
Stay firm!
Stand firm!
Stick with our goal!
Start with our present and future plan!
Stage by stage performing, the new constitutional disposal move nearer!
Strike by strike for our achievement!

Anonymous said...

It is simple if you denied the charges you two have to tell the truth who did it. Who ordered you
who were your master, your boss and clan to commit all those crimes.
If you don't tell us the truth you have to accept the charges. Indeed,
this charges were very unjust already. In fact, you all should be executed for paying back the Cambodian victims'lives. Thus, if you don't want to accept the charges you should confess who did it.

Anonymous said...

-អ្នកដែលអាចចេញមុខជំនួសអាកំសាកសម រង្សី
គឺកម្លាំងប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ទូទាំងប្រទេស។
-សម រង្សី ជាភេរវករយួន ខាងបង្កើតបញ្ហាខ្មែរ
-ចងហើយចងទៀត មិនដែលចេះស្រាយបញ្ហាទេ!

*** សួរថា ចុះឧបមា,
បើអាម្សៀ កំសាកសម រង្សី ហ្នឹងវា
ក្រទ្បាប់ទ្បានងាប់តៃហោង ចុះនរកបាត់...

-តើខ្មែរយើងចេះតែនាំគ្នាអេះក្ដលេងហើយដេកចាំ អានរកសម រង្សី មកជួយខ្មែររហូត អញ្ចឹងទៅឬ?

-អាមាន់សម្លយួនសម រង្សី មុខអាចម៍រុយ
ល្មមដល់ពេល​ចុះចេញទៅ ទុកឲ្យពលរដ្ឋ ខ្មែរ
ទូទាំងប្រទេស គេធ្វើ​វិញម្តង។