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, August 13, 2008

KRT charges could seek genocide

Craig Guthrie
The Mekong Times
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All five defendants charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) may yet face an additional charge of genocide, a narrowly defined legally, more contentious charge which has divided Khmer Rouge (KR) scholars and tribunal watchers for decades.

Chea Leang, the court's chief Cambodian co-prosecutor, said in an interview yesterday that when her prosecution team has finished investigating the current charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, it will begin investigating charges of genocide, noting that this was mentioned in the prosecution's introductory submission.

"The factual allegations in this introductory submission constitute ... genocide," said the KRT document, released in July 2007.

"[I]t is true that the pros­ecution has charged the five people with genocide," said Chea Leang, adding, how­ever, that prosecutors will only ask judges to prepare genocide charges if suffi­cient evidence is found. "If the co-investing judges think there are genocide cases, charges must be imposed.”

Describing the acts com­mitted by the KR during its brutal three-and-a-half-year rule as "genocide" has a history of controversy, with many historians and politicians arguing over the notion that there was "clear intent" to destroy ethnic groups based on their race, religion or nationality. The author Milton Osborne told Asian Analysis in De­cember that while genocide might be applied to those people killed by the regime who were not Cambodian, "it seems correct to suggest that in killing their fellow Cambodians, members of the DK [Democratic Kampuchea] regime were acting against those whom they saw as en­emies of the state."

But top Cambodian re­searcher and historian Greg­ory Stanton has argued quite the opposite, suggesting in his article Blue Scarves and Yellow Stars that historical reports confirm Cham Mus­lims, and ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese were targeted for extinction by the KR.

"The Cham nation no lon­ger exists on Kampuchean soil belonging to the Khmer," he quoted a document recov­ered from the KR government as saying. "[T]he Cham na­tionality, language, customs and religious beliefs must be immediately abolished."

He added that the regime forced Cham Muslims to eat pork and massacred their leaders, while Cambodians from the Eastern province bordering Vietnam were made to wear blue and white checked krama (scarves), a "killing sign" which the au­thor likens to the yellow stars Jews were made to wear un­der Nazi rule.

But David Chandler, the author of Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison, told The Mekong Times that he finds the notion of possible geno­cide charges for the five KR defendants "strange stuff."

"The timing seems odd to me and I can't see how [for­mer S-21 chief Kaing Guek Eav] Duch or [former KR Foreign Minister] Ieng Sary can be convicted of geno­cide under the phrasing of the UN convention [against genocide]."

A "paper trail" to the oth­er three KR leaders currently detained by the court has always been hard to find, he said. "Perhaps the defen­dants will be judged inno­cent of genocide - which in my opinion they are - in the absence of evidence proving genocidal intent," he said by email.

Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he hopes that the tribunal will investigate the genocide link, as he says there is clear evidence that Chams, Vietnamese and Buddhist monks were targeted for oppression and killings.

"But I think the charges are unlikely to arrive, as it is very difficult to prove legally there was intent, and there is no 'smoking gun'," he said, adding that it would be particularly difficult to prove in the case of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the chief of the S-21 torture center.

Extracted from the Mekong Times
Issue No. 132
Wednesday, August 13, 2008


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