University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Gordon to train Cambodian prosecutors of Khmer Rouge genocide

GordonUND law professor Gregory Gordon, an internationally known expert on the prosecution of war crimes and genocide, has been invited to Cambodia to train prosecutors gearing up for the trial of the top surviving leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime at the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Gordon, who also heads UND’s Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies, is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for intensive mentoring and training with a group of Cambodian and international prosecutors who have been tasked with gaining convictions against: Nuon Chea, 84, also known as “Brother #2,” Pol Pot’s right-hand man and chief political strategist for the Khmer Rouge Party; Khieu Samphan, 79, the regime’s head of state; Ieng Sary, 86, its Foreign Minister; and Ieng Thirith, 78, the Khmer Rouge “Minister of Social Action."

Earlier this year, prosecutors at the Tribunal secured a conviction against Kaing Gueck Eav, also known as “Comrade Duch,” the infamous “S-21 prison” director who oversaw the systematic torture of 15,000 prisoners and execution of 12,000.

Duch, 68, was sentenced to 35 years in prison with credit for time served. The Khmer Rouge’s unfathomable process of social engineering and political cleansing – regarded today as the “Cambodian holocaust” -- resulted in the death of more than 2 million Cambodians by execution, torture and starvation from 1975 to 1979.

In Cambodia, Gordon said, he will focus on helping the team with trial advocacy skills in the mass atrocity context. He was invited to conduct the training by the ECCC’s co-chief prosecutor Andrew Cayley.

“This is an incredible honor,” Gordon said. “I have dedicated much of my professional life to working for justice on behalf of mass atrocity victims and I really appreciate getting the chance to help in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge period is one of the most devastating chapters in human history.”

A former war crimes prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the U.S. Department of Justice, where he also conducted a post-civil war justice assessment in Sierra Leone, Gordon has long been sought after by media around the world, including C-SPAN, National Public Radio, BBC World Service and Radio France Internationale. He has provided them comments and insight on war crimes and genocide in diverse places such as Nazi-occupied Europe, Ethiopia, Congo, and the former Yugoslavia. At the request of the Ethiopian Minister of Justice, Gordon has previously trained high-level federal prosecutors who worked on cases related to the Mengistu “Red Terror” atrocities of 1977-1978.

-- David L. Dodds, writer/editor, University Relations, 777-5529,

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