Khmer Rouge Leaders Sentenced to Life in Prison for Crimes Against Humanity
Two aging Khmer Rouge leaders have been convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison, three-and-a-half decades after the communist group's bloody rule left nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population dead.
A United Nations-backed tribunal ruled Thursday 83-year-old ex-head of state Khieu Samphan and 88-year-old former chief ideologue Nuon Chea were guilty of murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts.
Neither showed any emotion as chief judge Nil Nonn read the court's decision.
The men, who are the two most senior living Khmer Rouge ex-officials, denied any wrongdoing, saying they either did not know about the crimes or had no power to stop them.
The court rejected this argument. It said Khieu Samphan's position as head of state meant he was aware of the policy of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. It also found Nuon Chea exercised "ultimate decision-making" in the party."
Lawyers for both men say they will appeal the rulings. But judges say the two will remain jailed because of the gravity of the crimes.
The current case against the two leaders relates to the 1975 forced expulsion of millions of Cambodians from Phnom Penh to rural working camps. A second phase of the tribunal, which began last week, focuses on other charges, including genocide.
Israel, Hamas Talks Continue Talks in Cairo
Israel and Hamas continue indirect talks in Cairo on Thursday, with less than a day remaining before the expiration of a 72-hour cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
Both sides appeared to be far apart on the issues, but have suggested they are willing to extend the humanitarian truce, which ended four weeks of fighting.
Israeli officials have said they are willing to extend the cease-fire unilaterally, but Hamas representatives have denied that any agreement is in place.
Speaking Wednesday at a summit of African leaders in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama threw his support behind the Egypt-brokered talks, saying it is important to find a more sustainable solution.
Mr. Obama repeated his position that Israel has a right to defend itself from Hamas rockets and cross-border tunnels. He also said he has "no sympathy" for Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel regard as a terror group.
Hamas is seeking an end to a longstanding Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has led to widespread unemployment, forced a majority of Gazans to rely on food aid, and kept them from traveling outside the enclave.
Israel says it will not loosen its restrictions on Gaza unless it receives assurances that Hamas is disarmed and unable to import weapons.