ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Noun Chea Reported to Have Denied Any Wrongdoing in Private Conversation

By Ker Munthit


7:50 a.m. September 19, 2007

PAILIN, Cambodia – The top surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge was charged Wednesday with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as chief ideologue of the notorious communist regime that killed 1.7 million people through starvation, illness, overwork and execution.

Police surrounded Nuon Chea's modest wooden bungalow in northwestern Cambodia near the Thai border in the early morning and flew him by helicopter to the capital, Phnom Penh, where a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal took custody of the man accused of acting as the top aide to late leader Pol Pot.

Relatives and dozens of onlookers watched in silence as Nuon Chea left in a police car, witnesses said. His son, Nuon Say, said his mother fainted as her husband was taken. The man once known as Brother No. 2 rolled down the window and took one last look at his son, saying nothing, Nuon Say said.

Nuon Say said his father denied wrongdoing.

“My father is happy to shed light on the Khmer Rouge regime for the world and people to understand,” Nuon Say said.

Born into a wealthy Sino-Cambodian family, Nuon Chea was educated in Thailand and returned to Cambodia in 1950, where he joined the anti-French colonial movement and the Indochinese Communist Party, the precursor of the Cambodian Communist Party that became the Khmer Rouge.

A month after the regime took power in 1975, Nuon Chea addressed a meeting of the movement's leaders and laid out the Khmer Rouge “master plan,” which called for abolition of money, the market economy, religion, monks and faith and the expulsion of ethnic Vietnamese, according to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group gathering evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities.

Nuon Chea went on to supervise the inner workings of S-21 prison, where up to 16,000 people were tortured before being executed.

The Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979 and its leadership fled into the jungle. They surrendered in 1998 and Nuon Chea spent in relative seclusion, accepting visits from journalists, listening to the news on the radio, watching English soccer and practicing Buddhism. As his wife served fresh fruit juice, he would acknowledge the regime made mistakes but denied he was guilty of genocide.

“I was president of the National Assembly and had nothing to do with the operation of the government,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press last month. “Sometimes I didn't know what they were doing because I was in the assembly.”

His health worsened after a stroke and critics had feared he would never see the inside of a courtroom.

“Now the time has come for him to share his version of the history of Khmer Rouge before the court of law,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. “So many people have died. The facts are everywhere. There are plenty of mass graves, prisons, documents, photographs that can show what he did at that time.”

The charges against Nuon Chea were outlined by the U.N.-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in a brief statement Wednesday. Prosecutors have said they have recommended the trial of five senior Khmer Rouge figures. Nuon Chea is the second to be charged, and the highest-ranking.

Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as Duch, who headed the S-21 prison, was charged last month with crimes against humanity. The other suspects have not been publicly named, but Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister, and Khieu Samphan, the former head of state, are widely believed to be on the list. They live freely in Cambodia but are in declining health.

The tribunal was created last year after seven years of contentious negotiations between the United Nations and Cambodia. The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen – a former Khmer Rouge soldier – pressured the world body for control and the tribunal is run under the Cambodian judicial system, often described by critics as weak, corrupt and susceptible to political manipulation.

Trials are expected to begin early next year after countless delays.

“Even if we don't see a conviction, at least we have witnessed a process” of searching for justice, said Theary Seng, the director of Center for Social Development, a nonprofit group monitoring the tribunal.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home