Genocide Charges Focus of Second Phase of Khmer Rouge Trial

A TV screen shows former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan (top-C), as Cambodians line up at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh, 30 July 2014. The Trial Chamber of the (ECCC) announced an initial hearing against the former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea on 30 July 2014, who are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. EPA/MAK REMISSA

PHNOM PENH (DPA) — The tribunal trying two surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge held a first hearing Wednesday into charges relating mainly to genocide.

The hearing marks the start of the second phase of the trial of the two leaders: Nuon Chea, 87, known as Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's Brother Number 2, and Khieu Samphan, 83, former head of state.

A verdict in the first phase – relating primarily to the mass evacuation of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 – is due on August 7.

"Charges related to genocide, forced marriages and rape, treatment of Buddhists, internal purges, targeting of former Khmer Republic officials, four security centres, three worksites and one cooperative" will be heard during the trial's second phase, according to the website of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The hybrid national and United Nations tribunal was set up in 2006 to try the worst crimes that occurred under Pol Pot's ultra-Marxist regime between 1975 and 1979.

The period saw an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians executed or die from starvation and overwork in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.

So far the body has prosecuted one individual, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the former prison chief of Khmer Rouge torture center S-21, who received a life sentence in 2011.