Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Genocide charge refuted at KRT

Genocide charge refuted at KRT

Members of the public follow appeal proceedings at the ECCC during Case 002/01 earlier this month. ECCC
Members of the public follow appeal proceedings at the ECCC during Case 002/01 earlier this month. ECCC

Genocide charge refuted at KRT

Defence counsel for former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan presented a series of documents at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday in a bid to demonstrate that the regime’s alleged persecution of Vietnamese people was political, not racial, and therefore not included under the charge of genocide.

Sourcing scholars, newspapers, propaganda and Democratic Kampuchea (DK) meeting records, defence lawyer Anta Guisse highlighted that the “historic conflict” with both the Cham Muslim and Vietnamese people existed prior to the Khmer Rouge regime.

“The issue was not race, the issue was politics,” Guisse said. “The problems that may have occurred were not created by the DK, but these excesses committed against the Vietnamese [were] … problems that dated back to the Lon Nol regime.”

The defence pointed to scholar Stephen Heder’s analysis of the Khmer Rogue’s oft-repeated slogan “Khmer body with a Vietnamese head” – a description often applied to Khmer Krom, or ethnic Khmers born in Vietnam, who were also persecuted under the regime.

“Being physically or racially Khmer was no protection,” Heder wrote, explaining the mantra conjured a Vietnamese political structure on top of Cambodian leadership.

“We cannot speak about desire or will to commit racial genocide or extermination on the basis of race … because it corresponds more to political repression,” Guisse said.

Other documents she cited admitted that while the Cham were indeed victimised more than other groups, it was due to their refusal to abstain from daily prayers. Other documents suggested the Cham were important to the revolution.

Civil party lawyers yesterday also presented documents detailing the harrowing accounts of ethnic Vietnamese victims – describing mass killings and false confessions extracted through torture. “He was beaten 50 times with a whip,” one account read.

“He could not endure . . . so he just made up his answers,” said another. Nuon Chea’s defence lawyer, Victor Koppe, was again absent from court yesterday.

In a letter dated February 19, and obtained yesterday, the trial chamber again referred Koppe to the Amsterdam Bar Association for “possible professional misconduct”.

The letter outlines a series of comments Mr Koppe gave in an interview with the Mekong Review, including the statement: “I have nothing but professional contempt for the international judges”. The trial continues on Friday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Hate worse than virus, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday criticised countries that have cancelled flights with China following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), arguing that such moves amounted to discrimination against the Chinese. In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony for work on national roads 2