Two top former Khmer Rouge leaders have been sentenced to life in prison by a UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia.
The historic verdicts were announced against Khieu Samphan, the regime’s 83-year-old former head of state, and Nuon Chea, its 88-year-old chief ideologue.
Nuon Chea, wearing his trademark sunglasses, sat in a wheelchair in the dock as the verdict was read, while Khieu Samphan stood next to him.
The men showed no emotion as they were sentenced, though survivors of the regime following the trialcried and applauded as the sentences were handed down.
The charges centred on the forced exodus of millions of people from Cambodia’s cities and towns, and an execution site in the northwest where thousands of people were shot and buried in mass graves.
The Khmer Rouge was the name given to followers of the Communist Party of Cambodia which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Led by Pol Pot, the regime’s rule led to the deaths of more than two million Cambodians, many who were tortured and executed.
The men’s lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.”It is unjust for my client. He did not know or commit many of these crimes,” Son Arun, a lawyer for Nuon Chea, told reporters.
But the judge Nil Nonnsaid the gravity of the crimes meant they would “remain in detention until this judgment becomes final”.
Nonnadded the pair were “guilty of crimes against humanity, of extermination… political persecution, and other inhumane acts.”