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Khmer Rouge leaders leave court citing ill health

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Khmer Rouge leaders leave court citing ill health


Senior surviving members of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime have shown little sign of co-operating at their trial which has started in Phnom Penh.

The four were among the inner circle of the late Pol Pot, whose “Killing Fields” revolution murdered almost a quarter of the population in the late 1970s.

The defendants are charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the UN-backed trial.

Soon after the start, three of them left the courtroom complaining of poor health.

“I am not happy with this hearing,” Nuon Chea told the court. Known as “Brother Number Two”, the 84-year-old was second in command to Pol Pot.

The case is a key test for the tribunal, created six years ago. Among those present are Khmer Rouge victims and their relatives, anxious for justice.

“They should not be released from jail, I want them to die in prison, the same as when they killed my relatives,” said Prach Vana, a 53-year-old survivor of the regime.

Virtually all Cambodians alive today lost family members. Many hope the case will help shed light on the Khmer Rouge regime.

“Whenever there is a Khmer Rouge trial, I feel happy because they killed my father in front of my Mum, and also saw it with my own eyes,” said Chheong Pheng, a tuktuk driver in Phnom Penh.

The trial has been described by one human rights group as a “cathartic moment” that could help comfort survivors.

But some doubt whether it can deliver justice: the tribunal has been criticised as slow and bureaucratic.

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