Last Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide in Cambodia

Baltic news News from Latvia

Khieu Samphan, left, former Khmer Rouge head of state, stands at the dock in a court room during a hearing at the United Nations -backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday.

"The chamber finds that prisoners were brought to interrogation rooms, handcuffed and blindfolded, their legs chained during questioning", the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia said in its verdict, The Guardian reported.

The last surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia in the 1970s, when their reign of terror was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, were convicted Friday by an worldwide tribunal of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Nuon Chea, 92, and Khieu Samphan, 87, are the last surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and are already serving life sentences for the regime's forced transfers and disappearances of masses of people.

They were also sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, including murder, extermination, deportation, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, religious and racial persecution, disappearances and rape. Scholars had debated whether suppression of the Chams, a Muslim ethnic group whose members had put up a small but futile resistance against the Khmer Rouge, amounted to genocide.

With the Khmer Rouge in power, almost 2 million were killed due to overwork, starvation or execution, or were even tortured as the party looked to build an agrarian society.

"Today's verdict hopefully brings some measure of justice to the victims, 40 years after the unspeakable mass atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia", he said.

Khieu Samphan described the claim of genocide as "Vietnamese propaganda", a defence he and other former Khmer Rouge leaders have made previously.

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.

The Khmer Rouge sought to achieve an agrarian utopia by emptying the cities to establish vast rural communes.

Lawyers for Nuon Chea said they would appeal, and Khieu Samphan was expected to do the same.

Dean, a 35-year-old Sydney hotel worker and Scott, about the same age and from Western Australia, were taken from the port town of Sihanoukville on the orders of Meas Muth, chief of the Khmer Rouge Navy.

Hun Sen himself was a midlevel Khmer Rouge commander before defecting while the group was still in power, and several senior members of his ruling Cambodian People's Party share similar backgrounds.

In 2010 it convicted Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who was in charge of the infamous Tuol Sleng torture centre and prison in Phnom Penh.

Established in 2006 with both Cambodian and global judges, it has so far only convicted three people for the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime at a cost of $300m (£232m).

Global judges want the trial to proceed while the Cambodian judges reportedly do not.

Cambodia's long-serving, autocratic Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared he will allow no further cases to go forward, saying they would cause instability.

The ECCC has completed only one other case.

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