“Questionable” genocide trial

21 September 2010 by Lula Ahrens

“I’m afraid it won’t meet international standards,” warns Nuon Chea’s - or brother Number two’s -lawyer. He has serious doubts about the fairness of the trial which is set to start in 2011. Nuon Chea is among four former Khmer Rouge leaders indicted last week for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and, under Cambodian law, murder, torture and religious persecution, at Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal.

The four are surviving senior members of the hard-line communist Khmer Rouge movement. Former deputy to Khmer Rouge founder Pol Pot, Nuon Chea (84); foreign minister Ieng Sary (84), Sary’s wife and social affairs minister Iengh Thirith (78), and head of state Khieu Samphan (79) were charged by the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Pehn in December 2009.

They have been in detention since their arrests in 2007. The Khmer Rouge regime wiped out nearly a quarter of the country’s population between 1975 to 1979 in a bid to create an agrarian utopia. Up to two million people died from starvation, overwork or execution. The current genocide charges relate specifically to the deaths of Vietnamese people and ethnic Cham Muslims under the Pol Pot regime.

Estimates for the number of Cham who died under the Khmer Rouge range from 100,000 to 400,000. It is not known how many Vietnamese were killed. One of the suspects, Nuon Chea, is defended by Dutch lawyers Victor Koppe and Michiel Pestman.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.