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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Khmer Rouge Trial Underway

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia's "Killing Fields" court charged former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife on Monday with crimes against humanity, the latest members of Pol Pot's inner circle to face justice.

The octogenarian Ieng Sary, who became the international face of the Beijing-backed Maoist revolution after it was overthrown by a 1979 Vietnamese invasion, also stands accused of war crimes, a court spokesman said.

Ieng Sary and Khieu Thirith -- sister of Pol Pot's first wife, Khieu Ponnary -- were arrested soon after dawn by rifle-toting police, who sealed off the Phnom Penh villa where they have lived since cutting a deal and surrendering in 1996.

They were then whisked away in a police convoy to the court compound on the western outskirts of the capital to face the Cambodian and international judges probing their alleged role in one of the 20th century's darkest chapters.

An estimated 1.7 million people were executed or died of torture, disease or starvation under the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror from 1975 to 1979.

Ieng Sary has denied having anything to do with the mass killings but spent much of the 1980s defending Pol Pot at the United Nations while remnants of his black-shirted guerrilla army continued to fight from the jungle.

He is the third senior cadre to be arrested since the $56 million UN-backed tribunal got off the ground in earnest this year after almost a decade of delays.