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Cambodia genocide court adds charges against Khmer Rouge leader 'Duch'

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] said [scheduling order, PDF] Friday that it would add charges of murder and torture to the case against Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leader Kaing Guek-Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder; court materials], also known as "Duch." Duch already faces charges [closing order, PDF; JURIST report] of crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions, but commentators say the inclusion of the new charges based on Cambodian law will likely make it easier to convict him [AFP report]. The court, however, denied prosecutors' request to charge Duch with participation in a "joint criminal enterprise," a charge [Phnom Penh Post report] that can be used hold all members of a group responsible for the crimes of any of its members. The additional charges come in response to an August request by prosecutors [JURIST report] who had said the original indictment against Duch was incomplete. Duch's trial is expected to begin [JURIST report] in January 2009.

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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