12/18/2009, 00.00
CAMBODIA - UN

Khieu Samphan, chief of the Khmer Rouge, accused of genocide

According to the United Nations international court he is responsible for the massacre of Vietnamese and Muslim Cham minority. Along with Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea he must answer for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The trial will begin in 2011.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN international tribunal has indicted Khieu Samphan, former head of state during the dictatorship of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, for genocide. Another two leading figures of the regime face the same charge: Ieng Sary, 83, and former Foreign Minister and Nuon Chea, 82, an ideologue of the regime and known as "brother number 2". Pol Pot, the murderous dictator known as "brother number 1," died on April 15, 1998, without ever having responded to the atrocities committed.

Lars Olsen, spokesman for the tribunal, said Khieu Samphan, 78, was "brought before the Court and informed of the charges against him" which also include charges of genocide against the Vietnamese people and [the Muslim minority] Cham.  

Earlier Khieu Samphan (pictured), Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea had been accused of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." They have already been placed under custody, the beginning of the process is planned for 2011.

The former Khmer Rouge head of state has never denied the deaths that occurred under the regime. But, according to defensive line agreed with counsel, he insists that because of the office he held he is not "directly" responsible for the massacres. Samphan's lawyer is Jacques Verges, 83, who previously pleaded the case of Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie. Both have known eachother since the 1950s, during the beginnings of the left-wing youth movements in France.  

Last month the United Nations court requested 40 years in prison for Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, head of the notorious S-21 prison, responsible for the deaths of more than 17 thousand Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

He is the only Khmer Rouge leader to have admitted responsibility for atrocities committed by the Pol Pot regime, which in four years of brutal dictatorship wiped out nearly two million people. Having converted to Christianity, he has asked the forgiveness of the victims and their relatives for the crimes committed. The ruling is expected in the first weeks of 2010.

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