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Courts and Crime

Case dean advised the Khmer Rouge tribunal
Law dean Michael Scharf says this life sentences send the message that crimes against humanity will be punished

Lyndsey Schley
Former Cambodian Head of State Khieu Samphan was one of two former Khmer Rouge members who were sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.
Courtesy of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
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The interim dean of Case Western Reserve University law school helped with the U.N.-backed tribunal that sentenced two members of the Khmer Rouge to life in prison today.

Michael Scharf was a special assistant to the prosecutor in the case.  He says this trial sends a message to dictators that international justice is slow but patient.


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"This decision sends a signal to leaders who are still on the loose that they’d better be looking over their shoulders," Scharf says. "It reaffirms that leaders everywhere who commit these kinds of atrocities can be held responsible."

Scharf says since the crimes were committed in the 1970s, prosecutors had very little legal precedent to work from. However, the tribunal decided that the Nuremberg Trials of Nazis provided sufficient legal grounding.

Scharf says this case could set some significant legal precedents of its own. The trial acknowledged forced marriage as a crime against humanity.

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