Less than two months after the conviction of former Khmer Rouge prison boss Comrade Duch (see my blog of July 26), another four of its leaders have been indicted for genocide and torture in Cambodia in the 1970’s.
Duch was the first person convicted by the UN-backed war crimes court. Now Nuon Chea, deputy to the notorious KR leader Pol Pot, former head of state Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith will come before it. All of them deny the charges.
Justice has been a long time coming. The events to which the charges relate took place more than 30 years ago. The defendants have all been held since 2007, and the trial is not expected to start before the middle of next year. All of them are now elderly, and Ieng Sary is in poor health.
The Cambodian genocide was one of the most vicious in history, accounting for perhaps one in four of the country’s people. Apart from those who were murdered – “bourgeois” elements such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists and their families - many others died from hunger or overwork, as Pol Pot’s Maoist fanatics emptied the cities and drove people out into the countryside.
(See also my blogs of Jan 7, March 4, June 29 and Nov 22, 2009.)