Reminders of Cambodia’s dark days under the Khmer Rouge are never far away, with 1.7 million lives lost. Earlier this month in Kampot province, a cluster of mass graves were uncovered. The pits yielded bones and rotting clothing. Researchers think up to 1,000 victims lie there.
Today talks were resuming over a court aimed at bringing those responsible to justice. Marcel Lemonde, a co-investigating judge for the UN-backed tribunal, said:
“We said, and repeated several times, that now the trial must begin. People have been waiting for this trial for 30 years and we can’t delay any more.”
From 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge persecuted all those it saw as its enemies. The result was starvation, forced labour, disease and execution. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot is dead. But other key figures survive.
Youk Chhang of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia said:
“People have tried to cope with this for 28 years and we realise that without a final judgement it is difficult. So, the tribunal is not so much about now but about the future which is so significant. That is why it is so useful and so important for all of us.”
Procedural disagreements between Cambodian and international judges have been delaying progress.
If agreement is reached, the first trial could begin by the end of the year.