Last Khmer Rouge Leaders Found Guilty of Genocide

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Two senior leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime face a verdict Friday on genocide charges, in a ruling that experts say will bring down the curtain on the troubled United Nations -backed tribunal's quest for justice.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), said Khmer Rouge "Brother Number Two", Nuon Chea, 92, and former President Khieu Samphan, 87, were guilty of genocide against the Cham Muslim minority and Vietnamese people, and of various crimes against humanity.

Initial work had been done on two more cases involving four middle-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge, but they have been scuttled or bottled up by the tribunal, which is a hybrid courtsin which Cambodian prosecutors and judges are paired with global counterparts.

They are the first Khmer Rouge officials to be found guilty of genocide and have been sentenced to life in prison.

A man cleans a skull near a mass grave at the Chaung Ek torture camp run by the Khmer Rouge in this undated photo.

Just talking about the Khmer Rouge brought back disgusting memories of life in those years, he said.

The Khmer Rouge's crimes have always been referred to as the "Cambodian genocide", but academics and journalists have debated for years as to whether what they did amounts to that crime.

They sought to create a self-reliant, agrarian society: cities were emptied and residents forced to work on rural co-operatives.

"I want to bow to the memory of all the innocent victims but also to all those who perished by believing in a better ideal of the brighter future and who died during the five-year war under the American bombardments and (in) the conflict with the Vietnamese invaders", Khieu Samphan said.

William Levy reacciona así a los insultos de su compatriota Niurka Marcos
En fin, en los últimos 5 años de mi vida me he dedicado a mis hijos y a alcanzar otras metas, a hacer realidad otros sueños. Pero tristemente, sus esfuerzos por atacar mi persona solo sirven para revelar su propia naturaleza patética e ignorante .

Confronted in court with such charges, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan showed little remorse. Hun Sen was a Khmer Rouge commander who defected when the group was in power and was installed in government after the Khmer Rouge were ousted from power by a Vietnamese invasion.

Nuon Chea suffers heart problems and was allowed to move from the hearing room to a separate holding room.

Khieu Samphan, looking frail and gaunt, stood in the dock with the help of prison guards when Nil Nonn read the verdict.

So prosecutors at the tribunal tried to prove that the Khmer Rouge specifically tried to do that to these groups - something some experts, including Pol Pot biographer Philip Short, say they did not.

In 2010 Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, who operated the Khmer Rouge's Tuol Sleng torture chambers in Phnom Penh, was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Scheffer said that "challenges of efficiency, funding, and access to evidence" are issues that plague all worldwide criminal courts, but argued the successes of the Cambodian tribunal should not be diminished.

Although there are cases against four other Khmer Rouge members, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has been vocal about his opposition to the tribunal starting any new trials and there is little chance this will happen.

Initial work had been done on two more cases involving four middle-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge, but they have been scuttled or bottled up by the tribunal, which is a hybrid court in which Cambodian prosecutors and judges are paired with worldwide counterparts.

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