Ex-Khmer Rouge President: Prosecutors Head-Hunting

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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The former president of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime, currently on trial for crimes against humanity, denies taking part in any atrocities.

Khieu Samphan told a U.N.-backed court in Phnom Penh Wednesday the allegations against him are based on bad information. He accused prosecutors of fabricating information to get a conviction.

The 80-year-old former head of state is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Samphan told the court the accusation were based on unreliable accounts by journalists and on books.

Samphan, along with the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, and former foreign minister Ieng Sary, are accused of orchestrating Cambodia's “killing fields” in the 1970s, leading to the deaths of up to two million people.

Chea also denied the allegation when he addressed the tribunal Tuesday, saying he acted in the interest of the country and to protect it from a potential invasion by Vietnam.

Prosecutors are expected to seek the maximum penalty of life in prison for the defendants, though many fear they will not live long enough to be brought to justice.

Actual testimony is scheduled to begin in early December. The trial is expected to last two years.

The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.


Audio Cuts – saved in House Shared Wednesday in Dalet 5.1 as “CN CAMBODIA TRIAL – 9 ACTS”:

1.(Nat sound) outside the court building in Phnom Penh

2. (Nat sound) Judge Nil Nonn speaking

3. (SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) HEAD OF STATE DURING KHMER ROUGE REGIME, KHIEU SAMPHAN, SAYING: “You just ignored or fabricated the context within that period of history.''

4.(SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) HEAD OF STATE DURING THE KHMER ROUGE REGIME, KHIEU , SAYING: “When I listen to you manipulate the story to make the people believe that it is true, I feel that you really want my head on the block.''

5. (SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) HEAD OF STATE DURING THE KHMER ROUGE REGIME, KHIEU SAMPHAN, SAYING: “You would have the public believe that I was a rotten fish lumped with everyone in the same basket. That is a lie.''

6.(SOUNDBITE) (French) LAWYER OF KHIEU SAMPHAN JACQUES VERGES, SAYING: “I listened here to what sounded like a novel, written by Alexandre Dumas about what happened here in Cambodia. Unfortunately, it's all based on reports by journalists and anonymous testimony.''

7.(SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) FOREIGN MINISTER DURING THE KHMER ROUGE REGIME, IENG SARY, SAYING: “I should not participate in this trial until the Supreme Court Chamber has ruled on the royal pardon and amnesty.''

8.(SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) SURVIVOR WHO LOST THREE BROTHERS DURING KHMER ROUGE REGIME, KHEM SIEK, SAYING: “The accused are highly educated people. They committed the crimes and they do not accept it. This made me feel so sad.''

9.(SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) SURVIVOR WHO LOST HIS MOTHER AND TWO UNCLES DURING KHMER ROUGE REGIME, NOU VANNA, SAYING: “What they said in the court was not true, because there is evidence all over the country from their leadership of three years, nine months and 20 days.''