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Khmer Rouge Couple Detained Before Trial by UN Tribunal

A U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia has decided to detain a husband and wife who were once officials with the Khmer Rouge for up to a year while they await trial.

The U.N. issued a statement Thursday announcing the decision to place former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, a former social affairs minister, in provisional detention.

The two face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their roles in the brutal Cambodian government of the late 1970s.

Court documents released earlier Thursday say Ieng Sary called the charges against him "unacceptable" and said he would like to know the truth about what he called "the dark chapter of our history." He also expressed a fear of dying in prison.

The Khmer Rouge, which ruled from 1975 to 1979, is blamed for the deaths of nearly two million people, most of whom died from overwork, starvation or murder.

Two other former Khmer Rouge leaders have already been arrested on charges of war crimes.

The brutal government's second in command, Noun Chea, was arrested in September. Earlier, in July, former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, who is commonly known as "Duch," also was taken into custody.

The U.N.-backed tribunal was created last year to prosecute former Khmer Rouge leaders.