Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide

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The tribunal also found guilty of genocide, two men who are the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge: 92-year-old Nuon Chea, who was second to Pol Pot in its chain of command, and 87-year-old Khieu Samphan, who was head of state.

Friday's verdict, read aloud by Judge Nil Nonn, established that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide against the Vietnamese and Cham minorities. It was levelled against Chea and Samphan for the mass murder of Cham Muslim and Vietnamese people, rather than the broader Cambodian population.

Khieu Samphan was also found guilty of genocide against ethnic Vietnamese, though not against the Cham, he added.

Known as the "Killing Fields", a number of mass graves in Cambodia saw more than a million people killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War.

Nuon Chea, 92, was brought by ambulance and Khieu Samphan by van from the nearby prison where they are held.

Nuon Chea, who was the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, sits in a court room before a hearing at the United Nations -backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday.

Among the large crowd of spectators at Friday's session was 65-year-old Sum Rithy, who said he had been jailed for almost two years under the Khmer Rouge, who accused him of being a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency.


Both Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea appeared for the court session but Nuon Chea left after about 40 minutes because of back pain, the court was told.

Many believe Friday's decision will be the last for the tribunal, which has been marred by allegations of political interference.

Both men have suggested they were targets of political persecution.

There had been debate for years among legal experts at to whether the killings by the Khmer Rouge constituted genocide, as by far the majority of their victims were fellow Cambodians.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla who defected to the regime's eventual conquerors, Vietnam, said he would "not allow" any new indictments beyond the handful of top leaders.

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 global counterparts.

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 worldwide counterparts. "But justice is usually delivered, even if at times, as has been the case with the ECCC, it staggers across the finish line".

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