The current batch of suspects, however, may be the last to be tried, as investigating judges appear unwilling to take on further cases. Legal experts say pressure from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who wants to limit the tribunal's scope, as well as fatigue among some foreign donors, have weighed on the court.
In a preview of the legal battles ahead, a lawyer for Nuon Chea, the regime’s second in command, accused the court Monday of bowing to political pressure. The lawyer cited the tribunal’s failure to take on other cases as a sign of such interference. “The sole purpose of the judicial investigation was to collect evidence against our client and ignore the evidence that would put [him]… in a positive light,” says Mr. Nuon's lawyer, Michael Pestman, as opposed to the impartial investigation it was set up to be.
Hundreds of Cambodians packed the public gallery to watch the pretrial sparring between legal teams. Substantive hearings and witness testimony are expected to start by September, though the trial could run for several years, raising doubts about the longevity of the aging cadres, some of whom are said to be in poor health.