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‘Strong’ Case Against Four Khmer Rouge: Prosecutor

This combo shows file photos of the four top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime from left to right: Nuon Chea, the group's ideologist; former head of state and public face of the regime, Khieu Samphan, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; and his w

Andrew Cayley, the international prosecutor for the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, says he is confident ample evidence exists to prosecute four former regime leaders when their case goes to trial later this month.

Cayley spoke to VOA Khmer after a talk he gave at Rutgers University on Oct. 26, while the tribunal prepares for the trial of leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith for atrocity crimes.

“I think that the case is a very strong one against these individuals because of the size and scope of the crimes that were committed,” Cayley said. “There is documentary evidence that links them with the crimes on the ground, including publications of the Khmer Rouge, and including other documentary evidence.”

The prosecution has the “burden of proof,” he said, “but I have every confidence we will prove our case at trial.”

The upcoming trial, known in the court as Case 002, will be the tribunal’s largest, most complicated to date. The suspects are charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other crimes related to one of the 20th Century’s worst atrocities.

Lawyers for Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister for the regime, say they are not yet considering the burden of proof question, because they are awaiting a decision by the court on her mental fitness to stand trial.

Another defense lawyer in Case 002, who requested anonymity, said the evidence does not form a link between the facts and the crimes.

Hong Kim Suon, a lawyer for civil parties, said the case against the four was strong, including, “evidence, witnesses, documents, audio, images, and historians that have researched the case.”

“I think it’s enough to go beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.