Key moments in the trial of two senior Khmer Rouge leaders

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Key moments in the trial of two senior Khmer Rouge leaders

Two former Khmer Rouge leaders have been found guilty of genocide for killings during group's brutal rule of Cambodia in the late 1970s.

An worldwide tribunal in Cambodia on November 16 convicted two men for their part: the head of state, Khieu Samphan, 87, and leader Pol Pot's deputy, Nuon Chea, 92, known as "Number Two".

An global tribunal that found two former Khmer Rouge leaders guilty of genocide has sentenced them to life in prison.

On Friday, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan will be judged on additional charges of crimes against humanity, such as murder, extermination, enslavement, torture and persecution on political, racial, and religious grounds; genocide, for the killings of members of the Vietnamese and Cham ethnic groups; and more breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including wilful killing, torture or inhumane treatment.

The accused did not dispute their roles as pivotal figures in the Khmer Rouge communist regime, they both denied genocide and the lawyer for Nuon Chea, told the Guardian the case at the extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia (ECCC) had been conducted "very unfairly".

Almost 2.2 million people - a lot of them ethnic Khmer people - died of starvation, torture or disease in labour camps or were bludgeoned to death during mass executions, Reuters reported.

However, the judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal said that while genocide was also committed against the minority Cham - Muslims who were forced to eat pork, banned from prayer, and had their Korans burned - the two men did not have "genocidal intent".

Initial work had been done on two more cases involving four middle-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge, but they have been scuttled or bottled up by the tribunal, which is a hybrid court in which Cambodian prosecutors and judges are paired with worldwide counterparts.

Nuon Chea, 92, was brought by ambulance and Khieu Samphan by van from the nearby prison where they are held.

Only when an invasion by Vietnam finally drove the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979 did the magnitude of Cambodia's holocaust become known.

The UN tribunal, officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was established in 1997, but has been hindered by the deteriorating health of defendants and political interference.

Khieu Samphan, former Khmer Rouge head of state, is seen on screen at the court's press center at the United Nations -backed war crimes tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.

Members of the Cham community were among the large crowd of spectators who attended Friday's session.

Nuon Chea, who suffers heart problems, was allowed to move from the hearing room to a separate holding room. Khieu Samphan, aged 87, was the regime's former Head of State.

The tribunal in 2010 also convicted Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, who as head of the Khmer Rouge prison system ran the infamous Tuol Sleng torture centre in Phnom Penh.

Although atrocities were carried out on a massive scale, political realities - specifically the repeated demands by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that no more suspects be prosecuted - appear to preclude further cases being pursued by the tribunal.

Scheffer said that "challenges of efficiency, funding, and access to evidence" are issues that plague all global criminal courts, but argued the successes of the Cambodian tribunal should not be diminished.

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