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Elderly Khmer Rouge despots' life sentences upheld

Cambodia's UN-backed court has upheld life sentences for two former Khmer Rouge leaders convicted of crimes against humanity. The former regime killed mo​re than a million people during its rule in the 1970s.

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Khmer Rouge life sentences upheld

The tribunal upheld life sentences Wednesday for two leaders of the 1970s Khmer Rouge for murder and crimes against humanity. It was the tribunal's second conviction against those responsible for the deaths of as many as 2.2 million Cambodians, in what was one of the bloodiest chapters of the 20th century.

"Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 90, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 85, were the first top leaders to be jailed in 2014. The Khmer Rouge is believed to be responsible for the "Killing Fields" mass murders from 1975-1979. The men had appealed their convictions, accusing the court of a string of errors and the judges of failing to remain impartial due to their personal experiences under the regime.

But in a lengthy ruling, following months of hearings, the judge upheld the bulk of the convictions and the jail terms but accepted some legal errors had been made in the initial trial.

The Supreme Court Chamber's top judge, Kong Srim, said the pair showed a lack of consideration for the fate of the Cambodians murdered under their regime. "The Supreme Court Chamber considers that the imposition of a life sentence for each of the accused is appropriate," he ruled.

Known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the special tribunal is a complex hybrid court on the outskirts of Phnom Penh that combines elements of international and domestic law with four Cambodian and three international judges presiding. It was set up following an agreement between Cambodia and the UN to prosecute senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

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Cambodia's young people and the past

jar/sms (AFP, dpa)

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