[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] announced [press release, PDF] Monday that the trial of two Cambodian leaders accused of committing genocide will be postponed to January 2015. Lawyers for Khieu Samphan have refused to participate [JURIST report] in trial proceedings before the appeal from the decision at the first trial is filed. Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea were sentenced to life imprisonment [JURIST report] for crimes against humanity as a result of the first trial. The second trial brings charges of genocide as well as crimes of rape and forced marriages. The tribunal views [press release] the actions by the legal team to be an obstruction of justice, but feels taking action to replace the defense team at this point would result in further delay. The Khmer Rouge tribunal, established with assistance from the UN, is concerned that the men, aged 84 and 88, will not survive the duration of the trial proceedings.
The Khmer Rouge [JURIST archive] have been blamed for the deaths of nearly 2 million people between 1975 and 1979 during the reign of group leader Pol Pot [BBC profile]. The first case against the former leaders began in 2010, but the court did not hear closing arguments [JURIST report] until last year. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] last September that the refusal by the government of Cambodia to pay Cambodian staff at the ECCC was an attempt to undermine efforts to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.