Phnom Penh (dpa) – Two former Khmer Rouge leaders convicted of crimes against humanity began their appeal in a Cambodian court on Thursday.
Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were convicted last year of crimes committed during the evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975 and the forced population relocation in August 1975.
Khieu Sampan, 83, served as head of state of Democratic Kampuchea as Cambodia was then known. Nuon Chea, 88, was deputy secretary of the Communist Party and one of the last Khmer Rouge leaders to surrender, hiding out with armed soldiers near the Thai border until 1998.
The two were indicted in 2010 and their trial began in 2011, ending in conviction in August 2014. Both are housed in provisional detention near the courthouse.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent research institute, said that while it is unlikely their conviction will be overturned, it is still a necessary legal step.
“As a victim of the Khmer Rouge who was evacuated, it is important that these leaders are in jail for life,” he said by email.
“But we have to give them the benefit of the doubt so that we can have a fair trial.”