K Rouge leader remorseful over killings

2013-05-30 15:02
Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea (Nhet Sokheng, AFP)

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea (Nhet Sokheng, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Phnom Penh - 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 during court proceedings.

"I am responsible for what happened during the time of Democratic Kampuchea," Nuon Chea told the UN -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.

It was unclear why the two men had chosen to express remorse now, but Lars Olsen, a court spokesperson, welcomed the admission.

"Many victims have waited more than 30 years to hear any statement of apology or regret from leadership figures in the Khmer Rouge," he said.

‘Big status’

However, Khieu Samphan continued to insist he was simply a figurehead of the regime and knew nothing about its murderous side.

"Looking at it from outside, people might assume that I was the big leader. Really, I just had big status, I had no real power to arrest anyone. I have no knowledge of the people's living conditions," he said.

The court, operated jointly by Cambodia and the UN, 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.

Ieng Thirith, a sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998, was declared unfit to stand trial last year because she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Ieng Sary died in March.

Read more on:    un  |  cambodia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.