Friday, March 15, 2013

Cambodia / Genocide Tribunals

"Ieng Sary, who served as foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge regime, has died."
The Slow Death of Justice: Demise of Key Suspect Leaves Khmer Rouge War Crimes Tribunal with Only One Conviction
By Andrew Buncombe and Kounila Keo
The Independent, March 15, 2013
"When the ornately decorated court complex on the outskirts of Phnom Penh opened its doors in the summer of 2007 it was seen as a milestone in Cambodia's tortured journey towards justice. Survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, which killed up to 1.7 million of its own citizens, flocked to see the first defendant, a slight, wiry prison commander called Kaing Guek Eav, brought before the judges. 'I want to confront him, to ask who gave him the orders to kill the Cambodian people, said Chum Mey, one of just a handful of survivors from the Tuol Sleng jail, from which Kaing Guek Eav -- also known as Comrade Duch -- dispatched up to 14,000 people to the killing fields. Yet six years on, the tribunal is confronting little short of a crisis. In the latest of a series of setbacks, one of three elderly defendants standing trial for war crimes has died in hospital. Some of the same people who celebrated when the tribunal began now say it has become a sham and should be halted. Survivors of the Maoist-inspired regime said the death yesterday of Ieng Sary, 87, who served as the regime's foreign minister, highlighted a complaint they had repeatedly made -- namely that the slow pace of the trial is undermining justice. 'I'm very disappointed that Ieng Sary escaped justice, escaped the trial,' said Ou Virak, whose father was killed by the regime and who now heads the Cambodian Human Rights Centre. 'This is exactly what we have been saying. There is no time to waste.'
Theary Seng, whose parents were also killed and who spent time as a child in forced labour camps, said it was not surprising young Cambodians were taking to social media to call for the UN-backed tribunal to be halted. She said the UN should invoke its legal right to end the trial. 'This tribunal is a war of attrition,' said Ms Seng, who wrote about her experiences in a memoir, Daughter of the Killing Fields. 'The death of Ieng Sary is another example of how we, the victims, are losing???' The death of the man who was among the regime's most recognisable faces leaves only two senior members now on trial -- Nuon Chea, the regime's ideologist and right-hand man of its leader Pol Pot, and the former president, Khieu Samphan. As it is, a team of doctors is due to check the medical condition of 86-year-old Nuon Chea next week, to determine whether he is well enough to continue being tried. In 2011, the court decided that Ieng Thirith, the only female leader to be charged, was unfit to continue with the proceedings after she was found to be suffering from dementia. [...]"

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