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Supreme Court upholds life sentences for ex-Khmer Rouge leaders

The Supreme Court Chamber at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Wednesday upheld the life imprisonment sentences handed down to former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Thursday.

The two former Khmer Rouge leaders sat impassive in the dock as the final verdict was handed down to them in what was widely described as a historic moment for the Cambodian people and international law.

The two elderly defendants who were in 2014 convicted on crimes against humanity yesterday had their appeals rejected.

Though neither Chea nor Samphan had committed any of these crimes with their own hands, they were nevertheless criminally responsible for them, the judgment read, noting that they planned, instigated, aided and � in Chia case � ordered those crimes.

While the Supreme Court Chamber upheld many of the convictions for crimes committed by the two defendants, its appeal judgment at times was unsparing in its criticism of multiple errors made by the lower trial court.

Both had their convictions for extermination overturned while convictions for murder and political persecution were also reversed in relation to the crimes that took place at Tuol Po Chrey where at least 250 soldiers from the ousted Lon Nol regime were slaughtered.

Though the Supreme Court Chamer found crimes against humanity had in fact occurred in Tuol Po Chrey, it found insufficient evidence for Chea and Samphan to be held accountable for them.

The convictions of murder, persecution and other inhuman acts stmmed from the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975 and a second subsequent second phase of mass population transfers.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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