[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] on Wednesday began hearing closing arguments in the case [case materials] against two former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] leaders. Nuon Chea, also known as “Brother Number 2,” and Khieu Samphan, former head of state, are accused of leading the Khmer regime, which caused the death of 2 million people during their reign. The arguments mark the close of the case which began in 2010 [indictment]. The accused claim that they were unaware of the extent of the killing and argue they were acting in the best interest of the nation. This hearing is the last step before a verdict is handed down.
The ECCC, established in 2001, has run into several controversies in its history. Last month, the tribunal was forced to obtain a loan [JURIST report] to pay striking workers to cover unpaid salaries. The strike began [JURIST report] earlier that month. Also in September, the ECCC’s international prosecutor announced his resignation [JURIST report] from the tribunal. In August, approximately 100 tribunal staff members went on strike earlier that week to protest the unpaid wages, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] donors to provide financial support to keep the tribunal running. Tribunal employees reported to HRW that they are also bitter due to “government interference and corruption at the court” [JURIST op-ed], which has been a cause of concern since the trials began.