The UN-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia has formally indicted the four surviving leaders of the infamous Khmer Rouge regime.
Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea, was second-in-command to leader Pol Pot and chief organiser of the Khmer Rouge.
Khieu Samphan was the nominal head of state – the regime’s so-called “smiling face”.
Ieng Sary was Deputy Prime Minister and also Foreign Minister while his wife Ieng Tirith – the only woman on trial – was Social Affairs Minister.
Elderly and frail, they each deny the charges against them.
Several Khmer Rouge leaders, including Pol Pot, have already died, putting pressure on the tribunal to speed up the proceedings:
“This hasn’t always been easy, what with all the public notoriety, it hasn’t been particularly easy for me personally, either, but here we are today and this is very gratifying.” said judge Marcel Lemonde.
But not everyone feels gratified. Duch, the Khmer Rouge’s chief gaoler, was convicted by the tribunal in July and sentenced to 19 years.
But many in Cambodia say the sentence is too lenient.
1975 to 1979 was a dark time for Cambodia. Towns and cities were depopulated in a disastrous agrarian experiment. The educated classes and perceived opponents of the regime were ruthlessly purged.