Khmer Rouge Lawyers call for government officials to testify

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Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan. Their lawyers went on offensive by stating government officials should testify at the trial. ECCC picture

PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – The lawyers for Khieu Samphan and Noun Chea, case 002 of the ECCC said that members of the Cambodian government should be called to testify in the case against two leaders of the former Khmer Rouge regime.
 
A lawyer for Nuon Chea said those who were also former Khmer Rouge members would be able to provide “important testimony.”
 
“Everyone is equal before the law,” Soun Visal told the court.
 
It is the second case for the two defendants, who have already been tried for alleged crimes against humanity related to the forced movement of the population from Phnom Penh in April 1975 and the alleged execution of Khmer Republic soldiers, according to a statement from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
 
If granted, the motion could call into question whether the government would continue to cooperate with the special UN-backed tribunal. It also raises uncomfortable questions about the role of current officials during the brutal regime.
 
The lawyer specifically named National Assembly president Heng Samrin, Senate president Chea Sim and Senator Ouk Bunchoeun.
 
Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge cadre, has repeatedly said the tribunal can only try senior leaders of the former regime.
 
That would rule out lower-ranking members who have since assumed positions in Hun Sen’s government.
 
Nuon Chea, 88, also known as “Brother Number 2”, the chief ideologue of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and Khieu Samphan, 83, the regime’s former head of state, were among the few surviving senior leaders of the regime that was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, overwork, torture, execution, and massacre from 1975 to 1979.
 
A verdict in the first phase – relating primarily to the forced mass evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975 – is due on August 7.
 
The tribunal was set up in 2006 to try the worst crimes that occurred under Pol Pot’s ultra-Marxist regime 1975-79.
 
An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died of starvation, overwork and execution during the experiment to create an agrarian utopia.
 
Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch – the former prison chief of Khmer Rouge torture center S-21 – is the only person convicted thus far. He received a life sentence in 2011.

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