Prosecutors and defense lawyers are due to file closing submissions for the trial’s first phase by September 19, with oral arguments to begin October 16. A prolonged strike could hold up translation and administrative work and delay this timetable.
Cambodian authorities – technically obliged to bankroll the court’s domestic arm – have largely relied on foreign donors to pay the bill, while the U.N. is responsible for up keeping the court’s international arm.
The Khmer Rouge, a radical Marxist movement, came to power in Cambodia in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and sought to create an agricultural utopia in the Southeast Asian nation. The Communist group killed educated citizens and forced urban residents to move to rural collectives, failed spectacularly. About one-quarter of the country’s population perished from starvation, disease, overwork and executions.
The proceedings against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan is the tribunal’s second trial, which has already lost two of its original four defendants since it started in 2011. Ieng Sary, foreign minister during the Khmer Rouge regime, died at age 87 in March. His wife, Ieng Thirith, the regime’s social affairs minister now aged 81, was released last year after being deemed unfit to stand trial due to severe dementia. Trial observers and victims groups fear that Nuon and Khieu could die before their trial is completed.
The tribunal’s only conviction occurred in 2010, when former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was found guilty of crimes against humanity relating to the torture and deaths of about 15,000 people. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge officer, has opposed further indictments.