Crime and Punishment

Cambodian court upholds life terms for top Khmer Rouge leaders

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea is seen on a television screen at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, during pronounce judgement against former Khmer Rouge leaders, on November 23, 2016.
Samrang Pring | Reuters

A top Cambodian court has upheld the life sentences of the two most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

The Supreme Court Chamber said the 2014 verdict by a U.N.-assisted Khmer Rouge tribunal was "appropriate" given the gravity of the crimes and roles of the two defendants - Khieu Samphan, the 85-year-old Khmer Rouge head of state, and Nuon Chea, the 90-year-old right-hand man to the communist group's late leader Pol Pot.

The two men, who were sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, sat impassively as the lengthy verdict was read out Wednesday.

About 1.7 million people are estimated to have died from starvation and disease and through executions during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge rule.

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