[JURIST] Officials from the joint UN-Cambodia Khmer Rouge Genocide Tribunal [draft tribunal agreement, DOC; Yale CGP materials] being set up to try former Khmer Rouge [Wikipedia backgrounder] leaders said Thursday that the first trials should begin in 2007. Though no specific trial dates have been set and the tribunal still has not secured all of its $56.3 million budget [JURIST report], UN trial coordinator Michelle Lee said that recent progress [JURIST report] has made her optimistic that the court's Cambodian and international judges and prosecutors will be appointed early this year and that investigations will begin soon after.
Several former top Khmer Rouge officials are still living and are expected to the first prosecuted for their roles in the deaths of nearly one-third of the nation's population from 1975 to 1979 from starvation, forced labor, disease, and execution during the Khmer Rouge's "killing fields" regime [Yale CGP materials]. Two top officials, who are currently jailed and charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, are Ta Mok [Trial Watch profile], the 78-year-old military chief known as "the Butcher" for his alleged role in mass killings, and Duch [Trial Watch profile], age 59, who ran the interrogation and torture center. Time is a concern for prosecuting officials as the accused are aging and officials want to try them before they die. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot [Wikipedia backgrounder] died in 1998. Reuters has more.