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Khmer Rouge figure fit to stand trial

March 29, 2013 at 7:14 PM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, March 29 (UPI) -- Nuon Chea, known as "Brother No. 2" in Cambodia's bloody Khmer Rouge regime, is fit to stand trial for genocide and war crimes, the United Nations said Friday.

"Notwithstanding the advanced age and frailty of the accused, Nuon Chea, and the accused's precarious physical health, the recent report and testimony of the court-appointed medical experts clearly indicate that the accused remains capable of meaningful participation in his own defense," Nil Nonn, president of the U.N.-backed court in Cambodia, said through an English translator.

Nuon, who reportedly is 86 years old and suffers from heart disease and other ailments, was second in command to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, whose regime is believed to have killed about 2 million people between 1975 and 1979.

Witness hearings against Nuon and fellow defendant Khieu Samphan are to resume in the Extraordinary Chambers court April 8, the U.N. release stated.

Another defendant, Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister, died of heart failure this month. His widow and former social minister, Ieng Thirith, was found medically unfit to stand trial last September and the court granted her a provisional release.

Of five Khmer Rouge leaders indicted by the court in 2007, only one has been convicted, former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, who was sentenced to life in prison, the United Nations said.

Pol Pot died in 1998.

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