- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leader was arrested and charged with crimes against humanity yesterday — three decades after the murderous regime left 1.7 million people dead through starvation, overwork and execution.

Khmer Rouge ideologist Nuon Chea, the top aide to late leader Pol Pot, was arrested at his home in northwestern Pailin near the Thai border and flown to Phnom Penh, where he was put in the custody of a U.N.-backed tribunal.

The tribunal is investigating abuses committed when the communist Khmer Rouge held power from 1975 to 1979. A statement released by the tribunal said its judges had placed Nuon Chea in “provisional detention” after charging him “for crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

“Now the time has come for him to share his version of the history of Khmer Rouge before the court of law,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group researching Khmer Rouge crimes.

“So many people have died. The facts are everywhere. There are plenty of mass graves, prisons, documents, photographs that can show what he did at that time,” Youk Chhang said.

Police surrounded Nuon Chea’s home and served him with an arrest warrant after closing off surrounding roads. Officers then took the 82-year-old — who denies any wrongdoing — into custody, as his son and dozens of onlookers watched in silence.

Nuon Chea joined the Khmer Rouge in the 1950s in its formative stages as Cambodia’s underground Communist Party, later becoming its chief political ideologue and right-hand man to Pol Pot.

Prosecutors for the tribunal have said there are five senior Khmer Rouge figures they have recommended be tried. Nuon Chea is the second, and highest-ranking, leader to be detained.

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