Khmer Rouge leaders set for landmark Cambodian trial

June 27, 2011 05:49

PHNOM PENH - The United Nations-backed trial of the four most senior surviving members of Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge regime began on Monday, three decades after its "year zero" revolution marked one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.

The defendants, all now elderly and infirm, were among the inner circle of the late Pol Pot, the French-educated architect of the Khmer Rouge's ultra-Maoist "Killing Fields" revolution.An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians -- a quarter of the population -- were killed through torture, execution, starvation and exhaustion from 1975-1979.

The quartet, "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former President Khieu Samphan, ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, a former Social Affairs Minister, are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, among other charges.

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