The United Nations war crimes tribunal on Friday commenced the second phase of the trial for two ailing former senior leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea, also known as Khmer Rouge regime, for genocidal charges.
Nuon Chea, 88, branded as "Brother Number 2", the chief ideologue of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and Khieu Samphan, 83, the regime's former head of state, were among the few surviving leaders of the regime that was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, overwork, torture, execution, and massacre from 1975 to 1979.
The two defendants appeared in the courtroom during the hearing.
"The defendants are accused of genocide of Muslim Cham and Vietnamese ethnic minorities, forced marriages and rape, treatment of Buddhists, and internal purges during the regime from 1975 to 1979," the tribunal's president Nil Nonn said.
During the hearing, the co-prosecutors will be afforded an opportunity to make a brief opening statement and the accused persons and their lawyers may respond briefly, before the first witness will be called to testify on Oct. 27.
According to the tribunal's schedule, the duration of the initial segment of the evidentiary proceedings in the second phase is from Oct. 17 until Dec. 18. The chamber will sit three days each week.
It is the second case for the two defendants, who have already received life sentences from the tribunal for alleged crimes against humanity related to the forced movement of the population from Phnom Penh in April 1975 and the alleged execution of Khmer Republic soldiers. They have appealed against the guilty verdicts.
Launched in 2006, the U.N.-backed tribunal is seeking justice for the victims during the regime from 1975 to 1979.