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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 05:52 GMT
Khmer Rouge victims address court
People wait outside the court in Phnom Penh on 7 February 2008
Many have been waiting to see Khmer Rouge leaders in court
Survivors of Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime have addressed a UN-backed genocide court for the first time.

The survivors spoke at a bail hearing for top Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, who has been charged with crimes against humanity.

Victims had been waiting 30 years for justice, one woman said, urging the court not to grant bail to Pol Pot's former deputy.

Nuon Chea is one of five senior Khmer Rouge officials awaiting trial.

More than one million people are thought to have died during the regime's 1975-1979 rule.

Tens of thousands of people were executed while others starved to death or died of overwork as the Maoist regime sought to create an agrarian utopia.

'No rights'

Theary Seng was one of four survivors named as "civil parties" in the case.

Nuon Chea in the dock on 7 February 2008
Nuon Chea was Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's deputy

She lost her parents under the Khmer Rouge and described to the court how she was jailed at the age of seven, along with her younger brother.

"We were not informed of our rights. There was no due process and we were arrested arbitrarily," she said.

"They treated us inhumanely - for us, the graveyard was our playground."

She urged against bail for Nuon Chea, the regime's ideological driving force who is now in his eighties.

"There is a risk that the accused will fail to appear in court and without his presence we will suffer a great loss," she said.

The court is expected to rule on bail in the next few days. A similar request by Duch, head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison where thousands died, has been turned down.

Nuon Chea had objected to the presence of the civil parties.

But, says the BBC's Guy Delauney in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, their numbers are likely to increase as the victims unit at the Khmer Rouge tribunal processes more applications.

The challenge will be keeping numbers to a manageable level - while making sure victims are properly represented, our correspondent says.

Victims speak

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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

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