Khmer Rouge genocide trial close to collapse as judges dispute rules

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- With sad eyes Om Som sits in her shack in the Cambodian countryside waiting for answers. The shoeless 70-year-old has clung on for half a lifetime hoping to find out what happened to her beloved husband, and why...

Twenty-eight years after Pol Pot's brutal regime was toppled, the prospect of a long-awaited genocide trial of its senior leaders offers a faint glimmer of hope for Om Som. With her family she was evacuated from Phnom Penh when it was cleared by the Khmer Rouge in "Year Zero", starved and forced to labour in the fields.

She endured the sight of bound prisoners brought in ox-carts to a Buddhist pagoda near her village and heard their tortured screams floating on night breezes from the makeshift extermination centre where 30,000 died.

"I don't want any revenge, but if the government tries these leaders I'll be happy," she said. "What I really want to know is what happened."

But even that modest hope could be dashed. The trial to bring to book the Khmer Rouge's leaders for the extermination of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians in the "killing fields" is on the brink of collapse even before the first indictment can be handed down...

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