The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday indicted [press release] four former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leaders. The indicted leaders, Ieng Sary [JURIST news archive], Ieng Thirith [case materials], Khieu Samphan [JURIST news archive] and Nuon Chea [JURIST report], have been detained since 2007 and are charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and offenses under the Cambodian Criminal Code 1956. These charges include acts of extermination, murder, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture and religious persecution, among other things. All four have claimed to be wrongfully accused. The indictments [Phnom Penh Post report] lead the way to a trial that will be the largest and most complex in the ECCC's history. Due to the age and deteriorating health of the four former leaders, political pressure on the ECCC to prosecute the individuals has increased. The trial is likely to begin in mid-2011.
In April, the ECCC dismissed appeals [JURIST report] by Ieng Thirith, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samp to block the extension of their provisional detention. The ECCC found in each case that "there is sufficient additional evidence in the case file to demonstrate that the case has progressed expeditiously" and that further detention while the investigation continues is reasonable given the "gravity and nature of the crimes" charged. The ECCC handed down its first conviction [JURIST report] of a former Khmer Rouge official in July. Kaing Guek Eav [case materials; JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch," was found guilty of crimes against humanity and of violating the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Last month, lawyers for Duch filed a notice of an appeal [JURIST report] of his conviction. Earlier in the month, the prosecution filed their own notice of an appeal [JURIST report] seeking to increase Kaing's term of imprisonment. The prosecution identified three grounds for appeal, including a discernible error in the exercise of sentencing discretion, an error of law regarding cumulative convictions and an error of law regarding enslavement.