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Verdict in First Phase of Trial for Two Khmer Rouge Leaders Set for August

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.
Officials at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal announced Thursday they will pass down a verdict in the first phase of an atrocity crimes trial against leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan in August.

Both men are accused of atrocity crimes, including genocide, for their leadership roles in the regime. The case was broken into two phases to expedite the trial procedures.

While the court prepares to begin the second phase, officials said Thursday they would pronounce a judgment on the first phase on Aug. 7. That phase focused mainly on alleged crimes surrounding the forced movement of people and the execution of soldiers following the Khmer Rouge takeover in April 1975.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the verdict is expected to “bring justice for all parties involved, including victims, who have long been waiting for justice, and the accused, who want judgment to be pronounced as soon as possible.”

Sum Rithy, a Khmer Rouge survivor and civil party complainant, said the decision will be “crucial” for victims. “We have been waiting for just for over 30 years,” he said.

“This is what the civil parties have been waiting for,” said Latt Ky, a tribunal observer with the rights group Adhoc. “They want to know whether or not the two accused will be freed or convicted.”