Peter Maguire

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The trial of surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge will begin in Phnom Penh on Monday. The fact that the case has even made it this far is a minor miracle to those of us who were in Cambodia during the 1990s, when the defendants’ amnesties seemed secure.

The court — the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (E.C.C.C.), better known as the “mixed tribunal” — has charged, with various counts of war crimes, the former head of state, Khieu Samphan; Nuon Chea, described as the movement’s ideologue; Ieng Sary, the foreign minister; and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was minister of social affairs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cambodia’s war crimes court, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC, deserves credit for convicting Kaing Guek Eav, better known as “Duch,” for war crimes and sentencing him to 35 years in prison. But Duch was the legal equivalent of a “tomato can” in boxing — an unskilled opponent used to pad a win-loss record. His conviction was an easy knockout.

Now that that legal mismatch is over, the long delayed main event — the trial of the aging Khmer Rouge political leaders — Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea and Ieng Thirith — can begin.

Unlike Duch, a functionary who admitted he was “responsible for the crimes committed” and expressed “deep regret and heartfelt sorrow,” the regime’s top leaders will mount aggressive defenses and maintain their innocence until the end.…  Seguir leyendo »