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Former Khmer Rouge Leader Loses Genocide Appeal


  • On Thursday, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a UN-backed hybrid court established to prosecute alleged Khmer Rouge war crimes, upheld a genocide conviction and life sentence imposed on the regime's last surviving leader, Khieu Samphan.[1]
  • In 2018, Samphan was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. He claimed not to have any real decision-making powers, and filed an appeal against his conviction in 2021.[2]



Pro-establishment narrative

The end of this trial offers some long-needed closure for the people of Cambodia and the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. Samphan was clearly involved with genocide and crimes against humanity, which cannot go unpunished. This trial shows that leaders must be held accountable, no matter how much time has passed.

Establishment-critical narrative

This lengthy and expensive trial didn't accomplish very much. The majority of the leaders died without facing any real accountability for their part in the genocide of thousands of innocent citizens. The majority of Cambodians want to be able to forget about this part of the nation's history and move forward.