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Cambodia genocide tribunal expects early 2010 verdict for ex-Khmer Rouge official

[JURIST] A verdict is expected by early 2010 in the trial of former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] official Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder, JURIST news archive], a spokesperson for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] confirmed to JURIST Thursday. Kaing, also known as "Duch," is the first senior official of the Khmer Rouge, the communist regime responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979, to face justice. Also Thursday, ECCC head judge Nil Nonn said that the court would deliver a fair and just verdict [AFP report], warning witnesses not to use the proceedings to take revenge against Kaing.

In March, Kaing accepted responsibility and apologized [JURIST report] for the torture and murder of some 12,000 Cambodians at the Tuol Sleng detention center, where he was secretary. Kaing faces charges [press release, PDF] of homicide, torture, crimes against humanity, and breaches of the Geneva Conventions [materials]. He is the first of eight ex-Khmer Rouge officials expected to be tried before the ECCC, which last week announced the establishment of an independent counselor to oversee anti-corruption efforts [JURIST reports]. The ECCC has been plagued by accusations of corruption, and, last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] asked the ECCC to determine the scope of its prosecutions [JURIST report] "to thwart growing perceptions that court decisions are directed by the government." In February, HRW warned that ECCC trials were in danger of being tainted for their failure to follow fair trial standards, and in January a Cambodian court agreed to hear a corruption case [JURIST reports] involving two ECCC judges.

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