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Prosecutors call for life sentences for 2 Khmer Rouge leaders

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The prosecutors of a U.N.-backed court called Monday for life sentences for two former Khmer Rouge leaders who are blamed for the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians in the late 1970s.

Chea Leang, a co-prosecutor of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, made the call in the trial of Nuon Chea, 87, former head of the Khmer Rouge parliament known as Brother No. 2, and Khieu Samphan, 82, the former Khmer Rouge head of state.

The tribunal, established in 2006, has so far convicted only one Khmer Rouge leader, Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, 70, who headed the notorious S-21 prison, and sentenced him to life in prison.

Originally, four senior Khmer Rouge leaders were charged but only Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan remain in the dock.

Ieng Sary, the third-ranking Khmer Rouge leader and foreign minister, died in March this year at the age of 87. Ieng Sary's wife, Ieng Thirith, 81, the regime's social affairs minister, has been deemed unfit to stand trial due to dementia.

She was released in September last year.

The original case against the four defendants on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity began in November 2011.

But because the massive scope of the crimes involved, the ECCC split the case into two separate trials for the remaining two defendants because of their advanced ages.

The current trial is related to crimes committed during the forced evacuation of an estimated 1.5 million-2.6 million civilians and the execution of 2,000-3,000 soldiers of the Lon Nol regime in the northwestern province of Pursat between 1975 and 1977.

The trial is expected to conclude Oct. 31 following a concluding statement from the defense counsel and a final plea from the defendants.

Dim Sovanarom, a spokesman for the court, said a verdict is not expected until the first semester of next year.

No date has been set for a follow-up trial against the two defendants for crimes that were committed in the latter stage of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Duch, who headed the S-21 prison and torture center, is regarded as one of the most responsible for the regime that killed at least 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131021/prosecutors-call-life-sentences-2-khmer-rouge-leaders