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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Judges chosen for Cambodia trial
A tree used for killing children at the Choeung memorial on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh
Children were among the 1.7m Cambodians who lost their lives
The trial of top Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide moved another step closer on Thursday as 30 officials were selected to serve a UN-backed tribunal.

In a meeting chaired by King Norodom Sihamoni, Cambodia's Supreme Council of Magistracy approved 17 Cambodian and 13 international officials for the role.

A tribunal spokesman said prosecutors would begin work in June, with the trial phase set to begin in 2007.

Some 1.7m people are thought to have died in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998, and his regime collapsed shortly afterwards, but several senior Khmer Rouge figures are still living freely in Cambodia.

In 2003, Cambodia and the UN agreed jointly to convene trials, but there are fears the process could be undermined by the dire state of Cambodia's judicial system, which was badly debilitated by the Khmer Rouge policy of targeting the intelligentsia for extermination.

A complex formula of majority voting by both Cambodian and international judicial officials has been devised to try to ensure that tribunal decisions are backed by both sides.

Of the 30 officials selected, 14 will serve as judges and two as prosecutors. The remaining 14 will be held in reserve.


Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said the Cambodian judges were up to the task.

"I don't know how much international experience they have, but in terms of dealing with domestic crime, they are capable of doing their job," he said.

Nuon Chea: 80, chief lieutenant to Pol Pot, most senior surviving member of regime
Khieu Samphan: 74, head of state 1976-79. Pol Pot and Ieng Sary both married members of his family
Ieng Sary: Age unknown, foreign minister 1976-78. Said to be suffering serious heart condition

The names of the appointees were not immediately available, but the justice minister said the international officials came from the US, the Netherlands, Poland, France, Australia and Sri Lanka.

The BBC's Guy De Launey says there have previously been questions about the government's enthusiasm for the process, as many of Cambodia's current leaders were, at one time, members of the Khmer Rouge themselves.

But now it seems nothing will stop the trials going ahead, he says.

At present two former regime leaders, Ta Mok and Kang Keng Ieu, more commonly known as Duch, are in jail on genocide charges. But others, including Pol Pot's "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former head of state Khieu Samphan and former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary live freely in Cambodia.

Almost every Cambodian family lost a relative to starvation, disease, forced labour or execution during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Khmer Rouge court moves closer
18 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge court gets go-ahead
30 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Long wait for Killing Fields justice
05 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge genocide admission
30 Dec 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Key figures in the Khmer Rouge
17 Mar 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant
14 Apr 00 |  Asia-Pacific

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