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Cambodia genocide court says first trial unlikely until 2009

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday announced [press release] that the first trial of a former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leader is unlikely to take place until next year. The case of Kaing Guek-Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder; court materials], also known as Duch, is expected to be delayed as prosecutors challenge a closing order [JURIST report] issued by the investigation judges. According to a statement released by the court,

[s]uccessfully conducting trials of this significance is a complex process, and the Court recognizes that it can be frustrating for the millions who have been waiting for decades to see justice done. Nevertheless, each step of the legal process must be followed carefully, and conducted in line with the highest standards of justice. This will also ensure the most enduring legacy for the Cambodian Courts.
The court said its Pre-Trial Chamber would likely issue a decision on the closing order in December, at which time the case will be transferred to the Trial Chamber. The court also said a trial-management meeting is expected in mid-January, when an initial hearing date will be set. AFP has more.

Duch is charged [JURIST report] with crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions. The ECCC plans to try as many as eight suspects [JURIST report] for their roles in the Khmer Rouge regime, which is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] between 1975 and 1979. In June, court officials announced plans [JURIST report] to complete operations a year early because of limited funding but said they would still be able to prosecute all the suspects. In February, a Cambodian genocide survivor testified [JURIST report] against Nuon Chea [PBS backgrounder] at a pretrial hearing, marking the first time a victim has taken the stand against a former Khmer Rouge official.

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