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Prosecutors Seek Wide Scope in Impending Tribunal Case

Former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan, left, and Nuon Chea, right, look on during the funeral for Khieu Ponnary, the first wife of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, in 2003, file photo.
The international prosecutor at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal said Thursday he would like to wrap all charges against two aging regime leaders into the second phase of their trial.

“In other words, to cover all the genocide, all the crimes against humanity and war crimes,” the prosecutor, Nicholas Koumjian, said. “To cover crimes against each targeted group. To cover gender crimes, forced marriage, and rape. All of this in the trial.”

Koumjian was speaking during a meeting over the next phase of a trial of Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea and the regime’s former head of state, Khieu Samphan. Both are facing atrocity crimes charges, including genocide, for their leadership roles in a regime that oversaw the deaths of some 1.7 million people in under four years.

Prosecutors on Thursday also pushed for a limited number of crime sites to be included in the trial, for the sake of efficiency, a position argued against by defense lawyers.

Victor Koppe, a defense attorney for Nuon Chea, said limiting the number of crime sites could hurt the defense, especially in its attempt to disprove that there was a “national policy” that led to widespread atrocities.

“We believe there were in fact two equally opposing factions within the Khmer Rouge, fighting each other since the beginning of 1975,” he told court officials Thursday. “This is our theory, which we wish to develop in the second trial.”

No decisions were made during the meeting, to determine how the case might proceed. More meetings are expected at an undetermined date.