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Hospitalization of elderly Khmer Rouge war crimes defendant puts trial in doubt

[JURIST] Ta Mok [Trial Watch profile], the former military chief of the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] communist movement in Cambodia who was indicted for genocide in 1999, entered a hospital Thursday as his health continues to deteriorate since becoming sick in jail last week, according to his lawyer. The hospitalization has revived speculation that Ta Mok, 80, will be unable to stand trial before Cambodia's Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal [official task force website; timeline], scheduled to begin proceedings in 2007 [JURIST report]. Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary [Wikipedia profile] was hospitalized due to a heart condition [JURIST report] earlier this year.

The deteriorating health of several potential defendants has prompted the UN to call for their trials to begin as soon as possible [JURIST report]. 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 the former leaders and potential defendants are in their 70s. While judges and prosecutors for the UN-assisted court were recently selected [JURIST report], the tribunal has yet to secure all of its $56.3 million budget [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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