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Tribunal Announces Date To Begin Next Trial

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, left, former Khmer Rouge head of state, and Nuon Chea, right, who was the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, sit in the court hall before they made closing statements at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Hearings for two Khmer Rouge leaders facing atrocity crimes at the UN-backed tribunal will start Oct. 17, the court has announced.

The date will mark the beginning of the second and final phase of the trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, which was broken into two parts for expediency. Hearings will continue three days per week, Trial Chamber officials said.

Observers say the final phase of the trial has been a concern for victims, due to the slow pace of the court’s work, but with a schedule firmly in place, some of those concerns will be put to rest.

“We had worried about the lateness of the hearings for Case 002/02, and we welcome the schedule of the Trial Chamber,” said Long Panhavuth, a program officer at Open Society Justice Initiative Cambodia, which monitors the court. “We can say that victims will get the justice they are waiting for.”

Khmer Rouge survivor Bou Meng said he wants the upcoming hearings to reveal more information about the secretive regime. “If the judge can find more evidence, I would be pleased,” he said.

Noun Chea, the regime’s chief ideologue, and Khieu Samphan, its nominal head of state, have already received life sentences from the court, for their roles in the mass exodus of Phnom Penh following the Khmer Rouge takeover. They have appealed that decision.

They are now facing a wider raft of crimes—for Khmer Rouge crimes at detention centers and work camps, for policies including forced marriage, and for the alleged genocide of Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese.