Monday, November 19, 2007

Key figures of Khmer Rouge

(Pic on far left - Pol Pot)
(Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea live next door to each other)

Monday, 19 November 2007, 08:58 GMT

Key figures in the Khmer Rouge

Pol Pot's regime is thought to have led to the deaths of 1.7m people
A United Nations-backed genocide tribunal has been set up in Cambodia, to seek justice for the Khmer Rouge's hundreds of thousands of victims.

It could see surviving leaders of the brutal regime brought to the dock, but the man most wanted for crimes against humanity in Cambodia will never be brought to justice.

Pol Pot, the founder and leader of the Khmer Rouge, died in a camp along the border with Thailand in 1998.

Other key figures have also died. Ta Mok - the regime's military commander and one of Pol Pot's most ruthless henchmen - died in July 2006.

As time goes on, some people are beginning to question whether it is too late to achieve a proper sense of justice for the Cambodian people.

But there are several surviving figures who have been implicated in the genocide that took place during the Khmer Rouge's four-year regime.

Judges at the tribunal started questioning their first suspect - Kang Kek Ieu, more commonly known as Duch - on 31 July, to decide whether he should stand trial.

Duch was the boss of Phnom Penh's notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of people were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Now aged 65, he is the youngest surviving member of the movement's leadership.

Duch, who has since become a born-again Christian, has been in custody since 1999. He is said to be eager for his chance to go to trial to tell his version of events.


Nuon Chea, known as 'Brother Number Two" as he was second in command to Pol Pot, was arrested on 19 September and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He defected from the Khmer Rouge in 1998 and was granted a pardon by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In December 2002 he was called to testify on behalf of the former Khmer Rouge general Sam Bith, who was sentenced to life in prison for ordering the kidnap and murder of three Western backpackers in 1994.

So far he has denied being involved in the atrocities that went on during the Khmer Rouge regime, but critics suggest that at the very least he was fully informed of what was happening.

Ieng Sary, also known as "Brother Number Three", was the third person to be arrested by the tribunal on 12 November.

The Khmer Rouge's minister of foreign affairs, Ieng Sary was also Pol Pot's brother-in-law. His wife, Ieng Thirith, was the regime's social affairs minister. She was also taken to appear before the tribunal.

Ieng Sary became the first senior leader to defect in 1996 - and as a result was granted a royal pardon.

The United Nations says such a pardon cannot protect someone from prosecution, but Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has previously warned that going after Ieng Sary could re-ignite civil unrest in Cambodia.

The former minister is said to be ill with a heart condition, and has been travelling to Bangkok regularly for treatment.

His arrest was followed by that of Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge's official head of state, on 19 November.

He was the public face of the Khmer Rouge, who defected at the same time as Nuon Chea.

Until his arrest, the 73-year-old was said to spend most of his time at his home in Pailin, once the movement's jungle headquarters, reading, listening to music or gardening

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