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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
UN and Cambodia sign court deal
weapons of the former Khmer Rouge are piled up to be destroyed
Cambodia is encouraging former Khmer Rouge soldiers to disarm
The United Nations and Cambodia have signed an agreement which paves the way for a genocide tribunal to try former leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

The agreement was signed in Phnom Penh by UN legal counsel Hans Corell and his Cambodian counterpart, Sok An.

I cannot forget the time I was tortured. Every day, I'm wanting this trial
Chum Manh

Mr Corell warned on Thursday that it was still "far too early" to say when the trials would actually begin.

The agreement must still be ratified by Cambodia's legislature, and that is not expected to happen before the country holds a general election on 27 July.

BBC correspondent Clare Arthurs says the UN will also need to ensure that those nations which have been pushing for the hearings, including the United States, quickly commit the necessary funds in order for the tribunals to start.

The Cambodian Government and the UN first began negotiations to set up an international tribunal in 1997.

But for years, the two sides struggled to agree on the level of foreign control over the proceedings.

The UN pulled out of the talks in early 2002, saying Phnom Penh was unable to guarantee conditions for a fair trial.

Talks resumed last year, and the current proposal was suggested.

The plan - agreed in draft form in March - allows the majority of the judges to be Cambodian, but requires at least one foreign judge to support a tribunal ruling.

Human rights groups have criticised the agreement as giving the Cambodian Government too much say in the proceedings.

But others have argued that time is running out to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

Nearly 2 million Cambodians are thought to have died under Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 to 1979.

So far, no senior figures have been charged for the genocide - one of the 20th Century's worst atrocities.

Most senior Khmer Rouge figures are now elderly, and some - including the top leader, Pol Pot - have already died.

Khmer Rouge's legacy of fear
24 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
UN and Cambodia agree on court
17 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Key figures in the Khmer Rouge
17 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Surviving the Khmer Rouge
24 Jan 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant
14 Apr 00  |  Asia-Pacific
Masters of the killing fields
02 Jan 01  |  Asia-Pacific

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