The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on Thursday convicted two Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, of crimes against humanity for their roles in the Cambodian genocide from 1973 to 1979. Because of the court's decision to try the charges against the two men, both in their 80s, in segments, the verdicts were more limited than they might otherwise have been. Hearings on additional charges, including genocide, are in progress and may yet produce additional convictions, assuming the defendants live long enough.
Nuon Chea, known within the Khmer Rouge as "Brother Number Two," was second in command to Pol Pot, who died of natural causes in 1998. As the party's chief ideologist, Nuon Chea was responsible for the development of a radical plan under which people were moved out of the cities and into the countryside in order to turn Cambodia into an agrarian society that could restart its social development at "Year Zero."
Khieu Samphan served as president of Cambodia from April 1976 to January 1979. Educated in Paris, like Pol Pot, he represented the Khmer Rouge to the world until the Vietnamese army removed the genocidal regime from power.
Although still on trial, both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan have been sentenced to life in prison.