Alexa

Khmer Rouge trial date to be set

Khmer Rouge trial date to be set

The U.N.-backed genocide tribunal met Thursday to set the date for the long-awaited trial of the first of five Khmer Rouge leaders charged with crimes during the regime's reign of terror in the 1970s.
Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, is expected to take the stand in mid-March but the exact date will be determined during the two-day, closed-door meeting.
Duch headed the S-21 prison, the largest Khmer Rouge torture facility in which up to 16,000 men, women and children perished, typically after suffering gruesome torture.
During the "trial management meeting," judges and prosecutors will discuss the plan for the first trial, appearance of witnesses and media coverage of the proceedings, said court spokesman Helen Jarvis.
Duch will also appear at the session to determine his health condition and readiness to stand trial, she said.
The first trial would come 30 years after the Khmer Rouge were toppled by a Vietnamese invasion, 13 years after the tribunal was first proposed and nearly three years after the court was inaugurated.
It has been plagued by political interference from the Cambodian government, allegations of bias and corruption, lack of funding and bickering between the Cambodian and international lawyers.
"The meeting today is a very ... very important step," Jarvis said.
Duch, 65, is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders being detained for trial by the tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity and war atrocities.
In early December, Duch was additionally charged with murder and torture.
Many victims of the Khmer Rouge have long feared that some of the defendants, now aging and infirm, will die before they can face justice.
The 1975-1979 communist Khmer Rouge regime is widely considered responsible for the deaths of at least 1.7 million people though execution, starvation, overwork and starvation.