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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Set for Closing Statements

Nuon Chea, left, also known as Brother Number Two, attends testimony of former Khmer Rouge leaders, Phnom Penh, March 20, 2012.
The U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear closing statements in the trial of two former leaders of the regime, in a long awaited final chapter for the case.

Tribunal officials said Monday that closing statements in the trial of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan will begin Wednesday and run through the rest of October.

Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen told reporters that Khieu Samphan is expected to be in the courtroom for the whole closing statement, but it is not clear if Nuon Chea will attend. Both men are in their 80s.

Documentation Center of Cambodia Director Youk Chhang, who has collected more than one million documents detailing the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, told VOA's Khmer service the closing arguments will be seen as a bombshell.

"It will be so meaning for those who long for it. It would be like a drop of water for a dying person during the Khmer Rouge regime. In those days a drop of water for a dying man was so valuable. This closing statement will show another step toward solving the past. It will bring relief to millions of people."

Case 002, as it is known, has seen a number of setbacks, including the loss of two defendants. The tribunal released Ieng Thirith after finding her mental state unfit for trial, and her husband, Ieng Sary, the former foreign secretary of the regime, died this year at age 87.

Since its founding, the court has suffered allegations of mismanagement, kickbacks and corruption.

The court has only prosecuted one individual fully, former prison chief Kaing Kek Iev , known as Duch , who was given a life sentence for his role in running an infamous torture and execution center in Phnom Penh.