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Khmer Rouge Defendants Offered Buddhist Ritual

Local Buddhist monks prepare to eat food made by villagers and donated as offerings to the dead during celebrations of Pchum Ben, or Ancestors' Day, at a Buddhist pagoda of Wat Kanty Yaram, in Prek Thoang village, Kandal province, northeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The traditional 15-day festival, which commemorates the spirits of the dead, began on Sept. 9. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The Khmer Rouge tribunal prepared a Buddhist ritual for two defendants awaiting a final trial this week, but only one was able to attend.

The ceremony, in which participants offer food to monks, was attended by Nuon Chea, chief ideologue of the regime, on Wednesday. However, Khieu Samphan, the regime’s nominal head of state, instead had to visit the hospital with gastrointestinal problems, court officials said.

“The ceremony was for both of the accused, but Khieu Samphan was not present because he had been sent to the hospital,” tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Khieu Samphan is now feeling better, he said.

Such ceremonies—once banned by the Khmer Rouge—are allowed under the internal rules of the UN-backed court.