More than 30 years after the Cambodian genocide of the late 1970’s, three people accused of plotting it have appeared at the UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh.
Nuon Chea, now aged 84, was second-in-command to the notorious Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, and known as Brother Number Two. The other two are the former head of state, Khieu Samphan, and the ex-social affairs minister, Ieng Thirith. Also awaiting trial is Ieng Thirith's husband Ieng Sary, who was the Khmer Rouge foreign minister.
The defendants have been in detention since 2007. A date for the trial has not yet been set, but it is due to begin by the middle of this year. The court which was set up in 2006 has so far tried only one person, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Comrade Duch, who ran the notorious Tuol Sleng ‘special interrogation centre’ in the Cambodian capital. Of 15,000 people held there, only seven are thought to have survived. Duch was found guilty of crimes against humanity.
The latest trial is expected to last for three years, and there are worries about how it will be funded. (See also my blogs of 7 Jan, 4 March, 29 June, and 22 Nov, 2009, and 16 Sept, 2010.)