Life sentence sought for Cambodia’s KRouge leaders

Life sentence sought for Cambodia’s KRouge leaders

PHNOM PENH - Prosecutors at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge court on Monday demanded the maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment for two former top regime leaders on trial for crimes against humanity.

"Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 87, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 82, are accused of playing a leading role in the "Killing Fields" atrocities in the late 1970s that left up to two million people dead.

Prosecutor Chea Leang said life in prison was "the only punishment that they deserve".

"On behalf of the Cambodian people and the international community we ask you for justice - justice for the victims who perished and justice for the victims who survived today who had to live through such a vicious and cruel regime under the leadership of these two accused and other leaders," she added.

The two defendants, the most senior surviving Khmer Rouge cadres, were both in court to hear the requested sentence.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the communist regime wiped out a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork and execution between 1975-79 in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia.

The kingdom's UN-backed court is moving closer to a verdict in the complex trial, which has been split into a series of smaller trials.

Life imprisonment is the maximum sentence it can deliver. There is no death penalty.

The first trial has focused on the forced evacuation of people into rural labour camps and the related charges of crimes against humanity.

The evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975 was one of the largest forced migrations in modern history.

More than two million people were expelled from the capital at gunpoint and marched to rural labour camps.

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