According to news reports, Nuon Chea, the former chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge and the number 2 (after Pol Pot) in the Standing Committee of the Khmer Rouge’s Central Committee during the period of power of the Khmer Rouge, was arrested in his house on the border between Cambodia and Thailand. This of course is good news for all those hoping to see the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia actually change the apparent impunity for senior Khmer Rouge members after the Cambodian Genocide in the 1970s; especially since the leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, was able to irrevocably evade prosecution due to his death in 1998.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia issued the following statement:
On 19 September 2007, NUON CHEA was brought before the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in execution of an arrest warrant. An initial appearance will be held today during which he will be informed of the charges which have been brought against him. An official statement will be issued shortly.
It is to be expected that Nuon Chea will be charged with (at least) the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity (pursuant to Art. 9 Agreement between The United Nations and The Royal Government of Cambodia and Chapter II Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers). Considering that Nuon Chea is 82 years of age it remains to hope that he does live long enough not only to stand trial but also to enable the Extraordinary Chambers to hand down a judgement. So far it must be determined that, due to inter alia several delays in the formation of the mixed courts in Cambodia, little has been done to substantially fight impunity and to “bringing to trial senior leaders … and those who were most responsible for the crimes and serious violations of … international humanitarian law and custom …, that were committed during the period from 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979” (Art. 1 Agreement between The United Nations and The Royal Government of Cambodia).