BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 07:00 GMT
Top Khmer Rouge figure in court
Nuon Chea in court on 4 February 2007
Nuon Chea was "Brother Number Two" under the Khmer Rouge
The most senior surviving member of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime has appeared in court for the first time.

Nuon Chea, who was second-in-command to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, asked for a postponement to his appeal hearing because of a row over his legal team.

Nuon Chea is one of five senior Khmer Rouge officials to be arrested and charged by a special genocide tribunal.

More than a million people are thought to have died during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 and 1979.

Researchers say Nuon Chea was the ideological driving force behind the regime, responsible for its most radical policies.


Nuon Chea's appearance in court did not last long, but the survivors of the Khmer Rouge era have finally seen the man known as Brother Number Two in the dock.

With a full head of closely-cropped white hair, the octogenarian is a striking, if slightly stooped figure, according to the BBC's correspondent in Phnom Penh, Guy Delauney.

Maoist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979
Founded and led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998
Abolished religion, schools and currency in a bid to create agrarian utopia
Brutal regime that did not tolerate dissent
More than a million people thought to have died from starvation, overwork or execution

He briefly addressed the judges to request an adjournment, because his foreign legal counsel had not been registered as required with the Cambodian Bar Association.

After more than an hour of private discussions, the judges decided they agreed with him, and are due to decide the next step on Wednesday.

Late last year, Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Kek Ieu, also known as Duch, was extremely deferential when he spoke in court, but Nuon Chea was direct and unabashed in his request, our correspondent says.

"If I have only a Cambodian lawyer, it is not consistent with international standards. I believe that if these proceedings go ahead, it is not fair to me," he told tribunal judges as he put forward his case.

The delay is yet another setback for the already sluggish tribunal process.

Khmer Rouge founder Pol Pot died in 1998 and many fear that delays to the judicial process could mean that more of the regime's elderly leaders are never brought to justice.

Scenes from the courtroom

Cambodians await Khmer Rouge trials
19 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime
19 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
First Khmer Rouge leader charged
31 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Key figures in the Khmer Rouge
31 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge trials ready to start
13 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Rocky road to Khmer Rouge trial
26 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Surviving the Khmer Rouge
24 Jan 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Cambodia
19 Apr 07 |  Country profiles

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific