Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal judges sworn in at Cambodia royal palace

[JURIST] Seventeen Cambodian judges and 10 others from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Japan, Poland, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and the US who will serve on the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal [official task force website; timeline] were sworn in Monday in a symbolic ceremony at Phnom Penh's Silver Pagoda in the royal palace. The tribunal, which will prosecute former leaders of the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive], is expected to begin holding trials by mid-2007 and last for three years. Judges and prosecutors [official list] were selected [JURIST report; official appointment decree, PDF] in May, but Youk Chhang, director of the Document Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM) [advocacy website], which has been collecting evidence against the Khmer Rouge and preparing for the trials since 1995, noted that Monday's ceremony formally establishes the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The deteriorating health of many surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, which ruled over Cambodia from 1975-1978, has prompted the UN to call for their trials to begin as soon as possible [JURIST report]. Ta Mok [Trial Watch profile], the former Khmer Rouge military chief, was hospitalized [JURIST report] last week and former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary [Wikipedia profile] was hospitalized due to a heart condition [JURIST report] earlier this year. Former Khmer Rouge health minister Thiounn Thioeunn [DC-CAM profile] died in June. AFP has more.

Andrew Wood is an Associate Editor for JURIST working in Cambodia this summer.

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