Concluding the three-day appeal hearing in the first phase of Case 002 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan denied bearing any responsibility for the suffering that occurred during the Khmer Rouge regime, for which he served as head of state.
In August 2014, Khieu Samphan, now 85, was sentenced to life imprisonment along with Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s deputy, for committing crimes against humanity, mainly in relation to the forced evacuation of urban centers and systematic killing of former soldiers loyal to Lon Nol, the military general who led the country before being ousted by the Khmer Rouge.
Bringing an end to appeal hearings before the tribunal’s Supreme Court Chamber, Khieu Samphan was granted permission to remain seated as he read out a prepared speech.
“What I want to say today and I want my countrymen to hear is that, as an intellectual, I have never wanted anything other than social justice for my country,” he told the court.
“I shall shout loudly that I never wanted to agree to any policy that is against the Cambodian people,” he continued, blaming “feudal lords” for derailing the radical agrarian policies implemented by the Communist Party of Kampuchea.
“The Trial Chamber had a prejudgement of my guilt, and with that determination it sorted and distorted evidence in order to confirm its prior decision,” he told the panel of Supreme Court judges.
“I ask you to please examine the evidence objectively with an open mind, and without any prejudice, even though I know that they want to make my case a symbol of condemnation.”
The Trial Chamber found Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, the two surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, guilty of crimes against humanity committed during the forced movement of the population of Phnom Penh after the Khmer Rouge victory on April 17, 1975, the subsequent execution of Lon Nol soldiers at Tuol Po Chrey in Pursat province, and two later forced movements of people in other parts of the country.
Both defendants appealed the verdict, as did the prosecution. Appeal hearings were aborted in November after Nuon Chea and his defense team walked out of proceedings. On Nuon Chea’s instructions, his national co-lawyer remained silent during this week’s hearings.
At a press conference following the hearing on Thursday, Marie Guiraud, the lead international lawyer for civil parties, stressed the importance of the Supreme Court Chamber meeting its June deadline for handing down its decision.
“It has been two years [since the initial judgement], and we don’t want the Supreme Court Chamber to delay the verdict,” she said, noting that 50 civil parties had died in the 10 years since investigations into the case began.
“It is imperative for us and for the civil parties that this timeline be respected,” she said.