[JURIST] UN officials from the Office of Administration of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are urging the timely start of the genocide trial of aging Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] leaders, noting the weekend death of Slobodan Milosevic in the fifth year of his high-profile war crimes trial at The Hague. The communist Khmer Rouge were responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million people by disease, forced labor, starvation, and execution during their 1975-1978 rule over Cambodia. Most of their former leaders are in their 70s, including Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister who was recently in the hospital for a heart condition [JURIST report], 'Brother Number Two' Nuon Chea, Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party, and Ta Mok [Trial Watch Profile], the 78 year old military chief known as the Butcher. Duch [Trial Watch Profile], (real name, Kang Kek Ieu), the head of the Tuol Sleng interrogation and torture center, is younger at 59 years old. Both Ta Mok and Duch have been detained and charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
Helen Jarvis, Chief of Public Affairs for the Extraordinary Chambers of Cambodia, emphasized that getting proceedings underway quickly was also important for "the victims and Cambodians who are waiting for justice". She made the comments at a ceremony to mark the signing of a logistical agreement on the operation of the Cambodian tribunal. Last week UN Secretary General Kofi Annan nominated 12 international legal experts [JURIST report] to serve with the court in various capacities. The Cambodian government is finalizing a similar list. The trial has been allocated a three-year budget of $56.3 million. Reuters has more.