Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide that killed millions
London : It is infamous for being Cambodia’s version of Nazi extermination policy against Jews during World War II with the notorious Khmer Rouge – officially called Communist Party of Kampuchea – responsible for the killing of millions during the late 1970s. Forty years since, two of its most senior leaders still alive have been declared guilty of genocide and handed out life sentences.
According to The Guardian, 92-year-old Nuon Chea – deputy to Khmer Rouge head Pol Pot, and 87-year-old Khieu Samphan – former head of state – were found guilty of having presided over mass killings between 1977 and 1979, on Friday. Both have already been serving life sentences but have now been held responsible for the mass genocide which shocked the world almost as much as the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Local media reports that many families of the 1.7 million victims of Khmer Rouge’s atrocities had gathered for the verdict and that there were scenes of jubilation afterwards. Many called it a historic judgement which ensured leaders of Khmer Rouge are punished despite their age.
Both Chea and Samphan reportedly did not deny that they were key leaders of Khmer Rouge in the 1970s but said they had no role to play in the genocide which wiped off 25% of the country’s population at the time.
The subsequent fall of Khmer Rouge, after Vietnamese armed forces and fighters from Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation captured the capital of Phnom Penh, led to the establishment of tribunals to investigate crimes against humanity. Families of victims say it has been a long and tough battle for justice but many feel punishing leaders of the regime still alive would be a deterrent against any similar regime which may crop up here or anywhere else.