Cambodia: UN tribunal charges former Khmer Rouge leader with war crimes

20 November 2007

The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes three decades ago has charged a former head of State of the country with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Co-investigating judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which is based in the capital, Phnom Penh, issued the charges yesterday against Khieu Samphan, who served as president of Democratic Kampuchea, as Cambodia was then known, between 1976 and 1979.

After a hearing the judges also agreed to place Mr. Samphan in provisional detention while he awaits trial.

The ECCC held a separate bail hearing today for Kaing Guek Eav (aka Duch), the former head of the Tuol Sleng prison under the Khmer Rouge. Prosecutor Robert Petit said he hoped the proceedings showed the tribunal’s intentions to proceed in an open and transparent manner.

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979, when up to three million people perished at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

 

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