[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] announced formal charges [press release] Tuesday against former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as minister for social affairs. The two were arrested [PDF press release; JURIST report] Monday and are both charged with crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] regime. Sary is also charged with war crimes. Sary and Thirith are two of five former Khmer Rouge leaders under investigation and their arrests were widely anticipated. Sary is suspected of perpetrating and facilitating murders as well as coordinating Khmer Rouge's policies of forcible transfer, forced labor and unlawful killings. Thirith allegedly directed and planned widespread purges and the killings of members within the Ministry of Social Affairs. Sary and Thirith are scheduled to appear before the before the UN-backed genocide tribunal on Wednesday.
The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended 2004, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials. The Khmer Rouge is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. To date, no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced trial. In August, the ECCC brought its first charges against Kaing Khek Iev [TrialWatch profile; JURIST report], better known as "Duch", who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [GenocideWatch report] is awaiting trial [JURIST report] for charges [statement, PDF] of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Charges were also expected to be brought against former head of state Khieu Samphan, though Khieu suffered a stroke [AP report] Tuesday, putting the prospect of charges in doubt. AP has more.