Rooms of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum contain thousands of photos taken by the Khmer Rouge of their victims. CC/Dudva
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Two former leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge appeared in a Phnom Penh court on Friday for the first day of trial, accused of crimes against humanity during their rule in the 1970s.
A joint United Nations and Cambodian government tribunal determined the men would face charges in two separate trials to expedite a verdict. The first trial concluded in August.
Nuon Chea, 88, former Communist Party deputy, and Khieu Samphan, 83, former president of Kampuchea, were convicted in August of crimes against humanity, extermination, murder, political persecution, forced disappearance and other similar crimes. Each received a life sentence.
"For those who have asked why we need another trial when these accused have already received life sentences, the answer is simple," prosecutor Chea Leang said at Friday's trial. "We are here because of the millions of Cambodians who did not survive this regime, for whom the three years, eight months and 20 days of Democratic Kampuchea meant only toil and dust, suffering and grief, pain and death."
Both defendants have said they oppose a second trial.
The new trial will first consider alleged crimes committed against the Tram Kok work cooperative and Kraing Ta Chan security center in Takeo, where more than 15,000 were killed. The trial will also examine charges of genocide against Cham Muslims and Vietnamese, forced marriages and rape.
The men were leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for a ruthless campaign of social engineering in Cambodia. It was estimated that 1.7 million people -- roughly a quarter of the country's population -- died by execution, forced labor or starvation.