The most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Nuon Chea, was being questioned Wednesday by police and officials from Cambodia’s UN-backed genocide tribunal, a source close to him told AFP. Police blocked the road to the house of Nuon Chea in northwest Cambodia as the tribunal officials swept in.
Shortly after 6:00 am (2300 GMT Tuesday September 18) a convoy of police and Khmer Rouge tribunal vehicles was seen arriving at Nuon Chea’s house, where he has lived freely since surrendering to the government in late 1998. “It is the order from the top to block the road and not allow people to go inside. I don’t know what is happening inside, but many police officials are there,” said local district police Keo Pheoun chief.
The 82-year-old, known as “Brother Number Two”, was Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot’s most trusted lieutenant and allegedly a key architect of the regime’s horrific execution policies which saw tens of thousands of people purged during its 1975-79 rule. His rank in the communist hierarchy and alleged decision-making role would make him the most significant defendant to be tried for crimes committed by the regime by a tribunal established last year.
Up to two million people died of starvation, disease and overwork, or were executed under the Khmer Rouge. The regime also abolished religion, schools and currency, exiling millions to vast collective farms in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.