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Case 002/01

Court Trial Chamber, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Cambodia
Case number 002/19-09-2007/ECCC/TC
Decision title Case 002/01 Judgement
Decision date 7 August 2014
  • Co-Prosecutors
  • Nuon Chea
  • Khieu Samphan
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords murder, crimes against humanity, extermination, forced transfer, joint criminal enterprise, war crimes
Other countries involved
  • Viet Nam
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The Cambodian genocide (1975-1979) saw numerous serious crimes in violation of international law perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge, in attempting to create a socialist government in Cambodia, took Cambodians from cities and forced their relocation into labor camps in the countryside. Physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were prevalent. Elites, foreigners, and those considered enemies of the state were executed. It is estimated that almost 2 million people died.

Case 002/01 was limited to the crimes involved in the movement of the populations and executions at Tuol Po Chrey that occurred during the period of the Cambodian genocide. The case found defendants Nuon Chea, the Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea and Khieu Samphan, former Head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, guilty of crimes against humanity. The defendants were charged for the crimes of murder, political persecution, and other inhumane acts (forced transfer) for the two forced movements of Cambodians from the cities to rural areas and other related crimes. In addition, the defendants were found guilty of the added charges pertaining to the hundreds of executions of Khmer Republic soldiers and officials that occurred at Tuol Po Chrey, executed by Khmer Rouge forces.

Both defendants appealed.

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Procedural history

On 18 July 2007, the Co-Prosecutors filed an Introductory Submission alleging that Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Thirith and Kaing Guek Eav (Duch) committed crimes within the jurisdiction of the ECCC.

On 19 September 2007, the Co-Investigating Judges ordered the severance of the charges into two case files: Case 001, which concerned Kaing Guek Eav’s actions at S-21 and Case 002, which included the remaining charges. On 14 September 2010 charges were dismissed against Kaing Guek Eav in Case 002.

On 15 September 2010 the Co-Investigating Judges charged the Accused for crimes against humanity, genocide and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. On appeal, the Pre-Trial Chamber confirmed, remitting the four Accused to trial on 13 January 2011.

Ieng Sary died on 14 March 2013 and the proceedings against him were terminated.

Ieng Thirith was found unfit to stand trial due to her dementia in November 2011, which was confirmed in August 2012. She died in August 2015.

On 29 March 2013, the Chamber again severed the proceedings in Case 002/01, limiting it to crimes against humanity committed during the movement of the population (phases one and two), and the executions of Khmer Republic officials at Tuol Po Chrey.

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Related developments

On 23 November 2016, the Supreme Court Chamber issued an appeals judgement. The Chamber reversed some convictions and upheld the rest. The sentences of life imprisonment for crimes against humanity were upheld.

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Legally relevant facts

Case 002/01 is temporally limited to the period between 17 April 1975 and December 1977, when the Khmer Rouge forcibly transferred the population from cities throughout Cambodia to rural areas in order to neutralize enemies, eliminate classes, and avert rebellion (para. 169). On 17 April 1975, alone, the Khmer Rouge moved at least two million people from Phnom Penh (para. 170). These movements were completed under inhumane conditions leading to starvation, exhaustion, sickness, and death (para. 171). Throughout this period there were numerous instances of inhumane treatment including killings, torture, rape, forced marriages, forced labor, and disappearances. Some of these acts were targeted towards specific ethnic groups (para. 173).

As high level officials Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan had knowledge of and were involved in the creation of these policies. Nuon Chea was the Deputy Secretary of the Party (para. 313), ran propaganda campaigns, training and discipline programs, and security matters (para. 303). Khieu Samphan did not hold any official titles but aided in economic and foreign trade decision making. He also had a certain amount of broader authority by virtue of his senior position (para. 409). Through his role, Samphan had knowledge of the Khmer Rouge’s policies and had access to information (para. 409).

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Core legal questions

  • Who is included as a “senior leader” under Articles 1 and 2 (new) of the ECCC Law, which provides the ECCC with personal jurisdiction over these officials?
  • Does the ECCC have jurisdiction to try international crimes?
  • During the temporal period, was the definition and applicable punishment of crimes against humanity under customary international law sufficient, as to not violate the principle of legality?
  • Is forced transfer a criminal act in its own right?
  • Does a person need to be in a position of authority in order to make a significant contribution to a joint criminal enterprise?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Articles 1, 2, 5, 29 (new) and 39 (new) of the ECCC Law.

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Court's holding and analysis

The Chamber found Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty through a joint criminal enterprise of crimes against humanity of murder, political persecution, and other inhumane acts (forced transfer) during the movement of the population. In addition, they were found guilty of the crimes against humanity of murder and extermination at Tuol Po Chrey (para. 940 & 1053). Further, the Chamber found that the Accused planned, instigated and aided and abetted the above crimes, while Nuon Chea also ordered the crimes (para. 940, 1054).

The Chamber concluded that Nuon Chea, as Deputy Secretary of the Party, exercised effective control and direct authority over the subordinates who carried out the movement of the population in which various crimes were committed (para. 892).

The defense of Khieu Samphan argued that as he had no official role, his contributions were insignificant because he held no position of authority and exercised no effective control. The Chamber ruled against this point, finding that Khieu Samphan did exercise authority during the temporal period, particularly by virtue of his economic and senior positions. The Chamber stated that an accused need not hold a position of authority to make a significant contribution to a joint criminal enterprise (para. 960).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Related cases

Supreme Court Chamber Judgement in Case 002/01

Trial Chamber Judgement in Case Case 002/02

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Additional materials

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