This Article is From Aug 06, 2014

Verdicts Due Against Cambodian Khmer Rouge Leaders

Verdicts Due Against Cambodian Khmer Rouge Leaders

Cambodian Buddhist monks read the court document books during a court break of a hearing at the UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

Phnom Penh: Three and a half decades after the genocidal rule of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge ended, a UN-backed war crimes tribunal is due to deliver its first verdicts on Thursday in a historic case against the last two living leaders of the regime to stand trial.

Khieu Samphan, the regime's 83-year-old former president, and Nuon Chea, its 88-year-old chief ideologue, face sentences ranging from five years to life for their role in the 1970s terror. Both men, in dire health, have denied any wrongdoing.

The case, covering forced exodus of millions of people from Cambodia's towns and cities and a mass killing, is just part of the Cambodian story. Nearly a quarter of the population died under their rule, through a combination starvation, medical neglect, overwork and execution when the group held power in 1975-79.

Many have criticised the slow justice, and its cost. The tribunal, formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and comprising of Cambodian and international jurists, began operations in 2006 and has spent more than $200 million so far. Yet it has only convicted one defendant - prison director Kaing Guek Eav, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011.

The current trial began in November 2011 and started out with four Khmer Rouge leaders. Half have been lost due to old age. Former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary died in March 2013, while his wife, Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, was deemed unfit to stand trial due to dementia.

All four were charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture.