30 June 2008

Khmer Rouge butcher faces trial

Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary appeared before Cambodia's genocide tribunal to appeal against his detention. The 82-year-old is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the regime's rule in the late 1970s.

Some 1.7 million people are thought to have died under the brutal regime. Hundreds of thousands starved as the Khmer Rouge tried to create an agrarian society. Many others perceived as educated were tortured and executed.

Ieng Sary is the most prominent surviving Khmer Rouge. He received a royal pardon 12 years ago after reaching a deal with the government that resulted in the eventual surrender of the Khmer Rouge. On this basis his lawyers are arguing that he should not now be facing charges. They will also argue that a trial would amount to double jeopardy.

The Vietnamese-backed forces which ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979 tried Ieng Sary in absentia and found him guilty of genocide. That verdict was overturned by the pardon. But Cambodians who survived Khmer Rouge prison camps feel particularly strongly about the former foreign minister. Many of them were well-educated people who returned to the country after personal appeals from Ieng Sary to help rebuild Cambodia. They were arrested on arrival, and thrown into brutal detention centres.

Ieng Sary's wife, former social welfare minister Ieng Thirith, is also facing charges.Trials are expected to begin later in the year.

It’s a shame he wasn’t tried in 1979. He would have been rotting in prison for the best part of 30 years already. Here’s hoping he spends the end of his life there.


Nunyaa said...

His old age doesn't excuse what he took part in. You're right, he should rot behind bars which is far less brutal than the regime he ran with.

jams o donnell said...

Indeed Nunyaa. I only hope he lives to be very very old.

James Higham said...

This is always the problem - they evade it for so long it no longer really seems to matter.

Sean Jeating said...

Hm, just think of that according to the dates above Robert Mugabe will be 110 when his trial begins.

jams o donnell said...

James, Sadly so. Sean, if he can live to 460 then it will be worth the wait!