Former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan was formally detained and charged on Monday with war crimes and crimes against humanity by Cambodia’s United Nations-backed genocide tribunal, a court spokesperson said.
“The co-investigating judges have detained him for a period of one year,” tribunal spokesperson Reach Sambath said.
“Khieu Samphan’s lawyers have already said they will appeal his detention,” he added.
The charges were filed after nearly 10 hours of talks between tribunal judges and Khieu Samphan’s lawyers, who include Frenchman Jacques Verges.
Verges gained fame by defending some of the world’s most notorious figures, including Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and terrorist “Carlos the Jackal”.
Khieu Samphan, who was the Khmer Rouge’s head of state, is the fifth top regime leader to be detained by the court for crimes committed during its brutal 1975 to 1979 rule over Cambodia.
Up to two million people are believed to have been executed or died of starvation and overwork as the communist regime emptied Cambodia’s cities, exiling millions to vast collective farms in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia during its rule.
The Khmer Rouge also abolished money, religion and schools. — AFP