Cambodia on Monday swore-in judges and prosecutors who will begin legal proceedings against former Khmer Rouge leaders for crime against humanity in the 1970s.
The elaborate swearing-in ceremony at the Royal Palace of Cambodian and international jurists is a key step forward in the long-awaited tribunal, as it will allow prosecutors to officially begin investigations. They have 18 months to probe and collect evidence.
The U.N.-assisted Cambodian tribunal is expected to begin next year. Most international jurists arrived Sunday.
Seventeen Cambodian judges, and 10 foreign jurists appointed by the United Nations took their oaths Monday in a ceremony under the auspices of deputy Prime Minister to the Royal Palace Kong Sam Ol, and Mr. Nicholas Micgel, U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan's representative.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath does not give any reason for 2 international judges and prosecutors who have not arrived in Cambodia yet. Reach Sambath said the ceremony should dispel any notion that a trial will not take place.
Cambodian judges and prosecutors swear that if they will not carry out their duties and power as judges and prosecutors, they will be punished by life and asset loss.
International jurists swear that they will perform their duties and exercise their power as judges of Extraordinary Chambers in the courts of Cambodia for the prosecution of crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.
Number two leader after Pol Pot, Nuon Chea told VOA by telephone on Monday that he is not concerned with this swearing-in ceremony, since there are no charges against him yet, and that he will be ready if the court summons him.
Opposition party legislator Keo Remy appeals to all jurists to adhere to their vows in the former Khmer Rouge leaders trial to bring justice to the victims and their families.
Executive Director of the Cambodian Defenders Project and Law Lecturer Sok Sam Oeun says that the vows are not enough for any justice for the people who suffered during the Khmer Rouge regime, and the court should set up morals standard for the jurists so they would not consider evidences leading them to make wrong judgments.
The jurists will investigate the actions of former Khmer rouge leaders and decide which will face trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Khmer Rouge's top leader Pol Pot died in 1998, but several of his deputies still live freely in Cambodia.