Now 90, the former head of state under the Khmer Rouge was given a life sentence for complicity in the genocide of two million Cambodians. Only three members of the old communist regime have been convicted so far. Cambodia’s current Prime Minister, Hun Sen, does not want any more trials.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Cambodia’s last surviving Khmer Rouge leader will know his fate once his appeal against his life sentence is heard starting next Monday.
In his initial trial, the Cambodia Tribunal found Khieu Samphan guilty of genocide. As head of state, the 90-year-old played a crucial role in the death of some two million Cambodians by the Communist regime of Pol Pot (known as Brother Number One) between 1975 and 1979 as a result of starvation, forced labour and mass executions.
In 2018, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a mixed Cambodian and international tribunal commonly known as the Cambodia Tribunal or the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, convicted Samphan in connection with the massacre of Vietnamese-Cambodians and other crimes such as rape and forced marriages, along with Nuon Chea (Brother Number Two).
In 2014, the UN-backed court handed down life sentences on the two Khmer Rouge leaders for the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975, when the city’s population was forced to move into the countryside.
Nuon Chea died in 2018. Pol Pot, the head of the Khmer Rouge regime, died in 1998 without going to trial. Under them and others, the regime they founded tried to turn Buddhist Cambodia into an agrarian socialist utopia.
Established in 2006, the ECCC have convicted only three Khmer Rouge leaders at a cost of more than US$ 300 million.
Cambodian’s current Prime Minister, Hun Sen (a former Red Khmer), does not want any more indictments. According to the country’s strongman, they will create further instability in the country.