Khmer Rouge tribunal to hear testimony on genocide of Muslim group


Phnom Penh (dpa) – Cambodia’s former Khmer Rouge leaders were on trial Monday for the regime’s alleged genocide of a local Muslim ethnic group while in power 1975-79.

Witness testimonies were due in the second part of the trial against former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, for alleged crimes in the later part of the regime’s rule.

The first part concluded in August 2014, when the two defendants were convicted of crimes against humanity in the early days of the regime, including the deadly evacuation of Phnom Penh.

Khieu Samphan, 84, served as head of state of Democratic Kampuchea as Cambodia was then known. Nuon Chea, 89, known as “Brother Number Two,” was deputy secretary of the Communist Party.

The UN-backed tribunal alleges they are personally responsible for the actions of the radical regime.

The Khmer Rouge initially forced the ethnic Cham Muslim minority to abandon their culture and integrate, and then from 1977 began rounding them up and killing them.

Approximately 36 per cent of Chams in Cambodia died during the four-year rule, compared to 18.7 per cent of the majority Khmer population.

The second part of the trial will also hear evidence of crimes relating to the treatment of Buddhists, forced marriage and rape, and also several torture and detention centres across Cambodia.