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19 Sep 2007 12:18
Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s top surviving henchman, was arrested on Wednesday at his house on the Thai border and taken to Phnom Penh to face the United Nations “Killing Fields” tribunal for the first time.
A terse, two-sentence statement by the $56-million court said the octogenarian communist guerrilla would “be informed of the charges which have been brought against him”—in all likelihood genocide or crimes against humanity.
Nuon Chea was arrested by a squad of Cambodian special forces soldiers, police and Western security guards who surrounded his small wooden home in a forest on the Thai border.
He was questioned inside for a short time before being taken away by helicopter and flown to Phnom Penh.
“My dad seems to have no worries, but my mother is worried about him,” his son, Nuon Say, told Reuters.
Papers and photographs were also seized from the house, Nuon Chea’s home since he and the final remnants of Pol Pot’s ultra-Maoist guerrilla army cut a deal with the Phnom Penh government in December 1998.
“They confiscated the documents written by my dad about the Khmer Rouge,” Nuon Say said. “They took all the photos from his home before they put him into vehicle, took him to the helicopter and flew him off to Phnom Penh.”
On his arrival in the capital, he was whisked to the tribunal compound on the Western outskirts for a closed-door hearing.
Nuon Chea is accused of being the surviving Khmer Rouge commander most responsible for the atrocities of the “Killing Fields”, in which an estimated 1,7-million people died.
In July, the long-awaited tribunal charged chief Khmer Rouge inquisitor Duch with crimes against humanity, the first formal indictment of any of the top cadres of the 1975 “Year Zero” revolution.
The black-shirted Khmer Rouge meant to transform the heavily forested South-east Asian nation into an agrarian peasant utopia.
Instead, it descended into the nightmare of the “Killing Fields”, one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.
The Beijing-backed regime was toppled by invading Vietnamese troops in 1979 and Pol Pot died in the last Khmer Rouge redoubt of Anlong Veng in 1998.
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