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Observers Welcome Detention of Nuon Chea

The US and other members of Cambodia' civil society welcomed the indictment of Nuon Chea as progress for a struggling tribunal that until recently had many people worried.

"The US is very pleased that Nuon Chea has been taken into the custody," US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Wednesday. "We are very pleased to see progress."

Sok Samoeun, director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, said the arrest was a "success" for the tribunal. "In the past many opinions said that this tribunal would not go forward. But now we see that it proceeds some. So this is the Cambodian people's hope."

Center for Social Development Executive Director Seng Theary called the indictment a "big success" toward "erasing impunity."

"It is progress worth noticing, but our concern is that, in Nuon Chea's arrest, just one man cannot solve all the problems that the tribunal is facing right now," said Long Panhavuth, of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Nuon Chea was brought to Phnom Penh early Wednesday under the execution of an arrest warrant from the Khmer Rouge tribunal, officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

After an initial appearance where he was questioned and notified of the charges against him, Nuon Chea was "provisionally detained," a tribunal statement said, becoming the second man in custody of the courts.

The head of the Tuol Sleng torture center, Kaing Khek Iev, widely known by his revolutionary name, Duch, has been held since July.