KRT Announces Scope of Second Trial Against Senior Leaders

Charges related to rape, forced marriage and genocide are to be heard in the next phase of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s trial against two senior regime leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the court announced Monday.

The new trial, which is expected to begin later this year, will also deal with criminal accusations including internal purges, treatment of Buddhists, and targeting of former Lon Nol regime officials, according to a decision by the Trial Chamber dated Friday.

In 2010, court judges voted to allow the indictment against Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s former second-in-command, and Khieu Samphan, former head of state for the Khmer Rouge regime, to be split into multiple smaller trials to make hearing the case more manageable. However, in 2011, the Trial Chamber decided to hear only charges related to forced evacuations in its first trial, leading to objections from victims, prosecutors, and some defense teams.

Last year, trial judges were ordered by the Supreme Court Chamber to make sure the second trial phase is more representative of the scope of the crimes laid out in the indictment.

In their Friday decision, judges said the new Case 002/02 would comprise significantly more allegations than Case 002/01. The upcoming trial will also hear evidence on crime scenes including S-21 prison and three other major Khmer Rouge security centers, the Trapeang Thma dam worksite, the Tram Kok cooperative, and the Kompong Chhnang Airport construction site. It will consider rape within the context of a nationwide policy of forced marriage.

Duong Savorn, a coordinator for the Cambodian Defenders’ Project’s gender-based violence program, welcomed the latest development.

“I am happy. It’s late, but at least now this case is on the agenda for this trial,” he said. “It’s good to have forced marriage on the agenda. They were forced to have sexual intercourse, which is gender-based violence as well.’”

But Mr. Savorn added that for women who say they were raped by Khmer Rouge guards and officials, the pain continues.

“We work with the victims and often hear that the perpetrators are still alive and they are not happy,” he said. “They hate the perpetrators, rather than the leaders, because the perpetrators directly committed the crimes and are still staying near them. If we cannot punish those direct perpetrators, the leaders of the regime have to be responsible for that.”

The charges of genocide that will be heard at the next trial pertain specifically to crimes against ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims. But, Ang Chanrith, director of the Minority Rights Organization, says Khmer Krom, or ethnic Cambodians who live in Southern Vietnam, also should have been recognized as victims of genocide. He said he hopes that Khmer Krom witnesses will be invited to testify in the second phase of the trial.

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