The two most powerful Khmer Rouge leaders still alive today have been found guilty of genocide, nearly four decades after Pol Pot’s regime collapsed and left more than 1.7 million victims in its wake. The verdict handed down Friday by an international tribunal marks the first time the Khmer Rouge’s crimes were declared to be genocide. Over the course of four years, the Khmer Rouge regime committed murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, and mass rape through the policy of forced marriages and targeting minorities, intellectuals, and former government officials. Nuon Chea, 92, who had served as Pol Pot’s deputy, was sentenced to life in prison for the regime’s crimes committed from 1977 to 1979, along with Khieu Samphan, 87, who had served as the regime’s head of state. Both were already serving life sentences for crimes against humanity, but Friday’s verdict is widely seen as the first official recognition of genocide in Cambodia.
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