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Cambodia genocide court begins substantive trial of ex-Khmer Rouge leader 'Duch'

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] began the substantive portion of the first trial of a former Khmer Rogue [BBC backgrounder] leader Monday when Kaing Guek Eav [Trialwatch backgrounder; JURIST news archive] was brought before the court. Pretrial hearings [JURIST report] against Kaing, also known as "Duch," began last month, but the substantive portion of the trial began when the proceedings resumed [Phnom Penh Post report] Monday. The schedule of events [closing order, PDF] in the ECCC on Monday included a formal identification of Kaing, a recitation of his rights, and a reading of the charges against him [closing order, PDF], which include war crimes, premeditated murder, and torture. The trial will continue [court document, PDF] with opening statements on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and after that every Monday through Thursday until early July.

Kaing's trial is the first of eight [JURIST report] that the ECCC hopes to hear against former members of the Khmer Rouge, which has been accused of murdering 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] during their nearly four year reign. The ECCC has long been plagued with accusations of corruption and inadequate funding, with greater problems in recent years. Earlier this month, the ECCC reported that it would be unable to pay its Cambodian employees [JURIST report] for that month, one year after the court had requested $114 million dollars from the UN [JURIST report]. In February, Human Rights Watch warned that the ECCC trials were in danger of being tainted for their failure to follow fair trial standards [JURIST report], and in January a Cambodian court agreed to hear a corruption case [JURIST report] involving two ECCC judges.

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