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Cambodia's Genocide Court Makes Fifth Khmer Rouge Arrest


The ailing former Khmer Rouge president, Khieu Samphan, has been arrested for his role in Cambodia's mass killings in the 1970's and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity . This is the latest move by an international genocide court to prosecute the leaders of one of the world's most brutal regimes. VOA's Heda Bayron reports from our Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

Police removed the 76-year-old Khieu Samphan from a Phnom Penh hospital where the ailing former president was being treated for a stroke.

International court spokesman Reach Sambath said Khieu Samphan was brought to court Monday morning.

"Mr. Khieu Samphan had been arrested with an arrest warrant by the co-investigating judges," Sambath said.

Khieu Samphan is the fifth member of the Khmer Rouge leadership to be placed in court custody. The court has yet to say what charges he faces. Other leaders such as former foreign minister Ieng Sary, arrested last week, have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Nearly two million Cambodians died through execution, starvation, disease and hard labor during the Khmer Rouge's rule from 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge emptied cities and forced people to work in farms to create an agrarian utopia.

In a new book, Khieu Samphan denied that the Khmer Rouge's policies had been responsible for the mass killings. He said the Khmer Rouge "struggled to defend national sovereignty" and that coercion was used to make people work in the farms to prevent food shortages.

Other Khmer Rouge leaders have denied committing any crimes. On Tuesday, the court will start pre-trial proceedings against Duch, who ran a prison and torture center in Phnom Penh.

The U.N.-assisted tribunal opened last year after years of negotiations between the U.N. and the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge commander.

Human rights groups and Khmer Rouge survivors fear that the aging and ill Khmer Rouge leaders could die before a verdict is reached.

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