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Four Jailed Khmer Rouge Leaders To Be Tried Together

The four senior-most leaders of the Khmer Rouge currently in custody at the UN-backed tribunal will be tried as a group, court officials said Tuesday.

Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith will be tried together at once next year, said Kranh Tony, acting administrative director for the court.

Lars Olsen, a tribunal spokesman, said the investigating judges will ultimately make the decision, but if the four are tried together it likely will be because they are charged with “the same crimes, the same criminal plans, the same evidences and [use] the same witnesses."

That trial could take place as soon as March 2011, officials said.

The administrative announcement comes a day after all four were indicted by prosecutors, who sent in their final submissions on Monday. In that submission, prosecutors did not recommend that Kaing Kek Iev, the prison chief better known as Duch, should not be tried with them, although investigating judges can still determine to put him on trial.

Duch received a commuted sentence of 19 years from the tribunal last month, for his role as chief commander of the center.

The prosecutor submission calls for charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of Cambodian law.

“The Co-Prosecutors believe that the evidence collected in the judicial investigation demonstrates that the Charged Persons committed these crimes through a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was to enforce a political revolution in Cambodia and systematically destroy any opposition to the [Communist Party of Kampuchea] rule,” according to the submission.

Joint Criminal Enterprise is a complex legal theory that seeks to put different defendants together for trial.

Prosecutors said that through joint criminal enterprise, those charged had “enslaved the Cambodian population, deprived them of their fundamental human rights and freedoms and orchestrated mass killings of individuals that the Charged Persons and other CPK leaders perceived to be real or potential enemies of the CPK.”

Son Arun, an attorney for Nuon Chea, said Monday he would need time to read the prosecutors' decision before commenting.

Investigating judges will now review the prosecution's submission.