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First Khmer Rouge victim testifies in ECCC hearing for former second-in-command

[JURIST] A Cambodian genocide survivor Friday testified against former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [PBS backgrounder] at a pre-trial hearing before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive], marking the first time that a victim has ever taken the stand against a former Khmer Rouge official. Cambodian-American human rights activist and author Theary Seng [personal website] testified that her parents were killed by Khmer Rouge actions, but Nuon Chea denied responsibility and refused to acknowledge that any genocide had occurred. On Thursday, Nuon Chea asked the ECCC's Pre-Trial Chamber to release him from provisional detention [JURIST report]. A ruling on the appeal is expected next week.

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. Nuon Chea was known as Brother Number Two in the Khmer Rouge, indicative of his high position in the communist movement led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998 having never been prosecuted for alleged war crimes. He was arrested and charged [JURIST report] in September 2007 and said that he was never in the position to order the deaths attributed to him, but that he will cooperate with the ECCC [JURIST report]. The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended 2005, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials, but to date, no top officials have faced trials. The first trials are expected to begin this year. AP has more.

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