THE wheels of international justice turn very slowly. This week, in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, the trial has finally started of some of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime which was responsible for the killing of two million people between 1975 and 1979 -- one-fifth of the population of the country. Not all of those responsible for the genocidal killing fields are in the Phonom Penh courtroom this week. Pol Pot, the principal architect of the killings, died ten years ago but five of his aides have lived to answer for their actions. Among them is Kang kek leu, alias Duch, who was in charge of the Tuio Sieng prison in which 17'000 people were tortured or killed; now 66 he has confessed to his crimes and said that he will co-operate with the court. The trial, which is being held in front of five international judges and under joint United Nations and Cambodian auspices, is expected to last for at least seven weeks. The relatively small number of witnesses, about 40, is a reflection of the difficulty that the prosecution has had in locating survivors of the atrocities and those suspected of administering them. However distant in time the events leading to this trial may seem it is nonetheless important that the process of justice should be followed. The creation of the International Criminal Court a few years ago should result in future cases - for instance those arising from Darfur - being dealt with more expeditiously.
KILLING FIELDS TRIAL