Special tribunal investigators cleared the last major delay of trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders. Cambodian and international judges for the United Nations-backed special court agreed on rules for the judicial process, paving the way for Khmer Rouge leaders to be held accountable for the atrocities committed during their rule. The announcement ends six months of debate.
Foreign lawyers will be allowed to represent defendants and victims may file complaints to the courts as long as they do so as a group. Cambodian judges will hold the majority but will need one supporting vote from a foreign counterpart to prevail in any decision.
The prosecution will refer their first cases to the investigating judges, who will determine whether there is sufficient evidence against Khmer Rouge leaders to bring them to full trial. The process is expected to start within a few weeks and last three years.
In 2004, after years of negotiations with UN representatives, Cambodia agreed to try a handful of Khmer Rouge leaders who were considered to be most responsible for the atrocities.
But since its establishment almost a year ago, the court has been stalled by bitter disputes between the Cambodian and foreign judges over many procedural issues, including court etiquette and registration fees for foreign defense lawyers.
The investigating judges will begin the judicial process as soon as they receive their first case from prosecutors.
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