COMMUNIST KHMER ROUGE LEADER ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR CAMBODIA’S KILLING FIELDS

Daily Telegraph, London, on May 30, 2013, reported that a leader of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge expressed remorse on Thursday for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people during the “Killing Fields” regime in the 1970s and accepted responsibility for the first time. Excerpts below:

“I am responsible for what happened during the time of Democratic Kampuchea,” Nuon Chea told the United Nations-backed tribunal, referring to the name of the country during the period, when he was the party’s second-in-command.

“I am very regretful for events that happened intentionally and unintentionally. I am morally responsible,” he said, expressing “condolences” to victims of the regime present in the court, where he faces charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and co-defendant Khieu Samphan, a former head of state during the Khmer Rouge period, have until now denied responsibility or even knowledge the killings.

Khieu Samphan said he regretted the “unspeakable suffering” done to the Cambodian people under the Khmer Rouge and offered condolences, his first such apology in court.

The court, operated jointly by Cambodia and the United Nations, was set up in 2005 with the aim of trying “those most responsible” for the bloodshed.

To date, it has delivered one verdict, a life sentence given to Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, chief of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, a converted Phnom Penh school where as many as 14,000 people may have been executed.

The current trial opened in June 2011 with four people in the dock – Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was social affairs minister in the Khmer Rouge government.

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