The last surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge that brutally ruled Cambodia in the 1970s were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes Friday by an international tribunal. Nuon Chea, 92, and Khieu Samphan, 87, were sentenced to life in prison, the same sentence they are already serving after earlier convictions at a previous trial for crimes against humanity connected with forced transfers and mass disappearances of people. Cambodia has no death penalty. Both men have suggested they were targets of political persecution. The verdict established that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide against the Vietnamese and Cham minorities, the AP reports.
The crimes against humanity convictions covered activities at work camps and cooperatives established by the Khmer Rouge. These offenses comprised murder, extermination, deportation, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, persecution on political, religious and racial grounds, attacks on human dignity, enforced disappearances, forced transfers, forced marriages, and rape. The verdict is the first to acknowledge that the regime's activities amounted to genocide, the BBC reports. There are fears that politics will thwart the tribunal from undertaking any further prosecutions. Cambodia's long-serving, autocratic Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared he will allow no further case to go forward, claiming it would cause instability.
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