PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — In a story Oct. 16 about Cambodia's trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, The Associated Press incorrectly attributed two comments to the U.N.-assisted tribunal conducting the proceedings. The statements — "Funding and problems of judicial interference may prevent future cases from moving forward," and the trial "may be the last opportunity for the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime to see justice"_ were made by the Center for Justice and Accountability, a San Francisco-based human rights organization.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Trial of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge leaders nears end
Cambodia's UN-backed trial of Khmer Rouge leaders begin hearing closing arguments
By JUSTINE DRENNAN and SOPHENG CHEANG
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's trial of the Khmer Rouge's two surviving leaders began hearing closing statements Wednesday, with pleas for belated justice and reparations almost 40 years after the brutal regime destroyed much of a generation of Cambodian people.
Now ailing and elderly, Nuon Chea, 87, the regime's chief ideologist, and Khieu Samphan, 82, its head of state, are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity — including torture, enslavement and murder — for planning and implementing the policies that left an estimated 1.7 million people dead.
Initial statements on Wednesday came from the lawyers of "civil parties" participating in the trial to represent the victims. They called for collective reparations in the form of commemorative monuments, mental health treatment for victims and collections of documents related to victims' suffering and to the trial.
Statements from the prosecution and defense are scheduled through the end of October, and a verdict is expected in the first half of 2014.
Hundreds of victims who lost their loved ones during the regime's 1970s rule packed the tribunal's courtroom and crowded outside.
"I need to see justice," said Prak Sri, 66, who traveled from the southern province of Takeo. "I want to see this court punish these Khmer Rouge leaders because 11 of my relatives were killed."
Death and disability have robbed the tribunal of other defendants. Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary died in March, and his wife Ieng Thirith, the regime's social affairs minister, was declared unfit for trial in September 2012 after being diagnosed with dementia. The group's top leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.
Just 20 minutes into Wednesday's hearing, Nuon Chea told the court he felt ill.
"I feel dizzy. May I leave?" the man known as Brother No. 2 told the court. He was escorted out in a wheelchair, taken to a holding cell to watch the proceedings via video link.
The Khmer Rouge, in power from April 1975 until January 1979, emptied the country's cities, forcing Cambodians into backbreaking work in rural collectives and executing any it suspected of dissent.
Torture and death by starvation, lack of medical care, overwork and execution were endemic under the Khmer Rouge.
Civil party lawyers recounted testimony of mothers who watched their babies die due to lack of food and medicine and families forcibly marched at gunpoint across the countryside.
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