Three decades after the fall of Pol Pot, the first trial of the leaders of his genocidal Khmer Rouge regime is to begin Tuesday before a U.N.-backed tribunal -- the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
On Tuesday, a thin, elderly former schoolmaster will stand in the dock in a bland courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, accused of crimes against humanity committed 30 years ago.
Kang Kek Leu, known as Comrade Duch, was the director of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison, the torture and interrogation center in Phnom Penh where thousands of innocent people were sent to die.
His trial will be followed by those of Pol Pot's inner circle: Nuom Chea, or "Brother Number Two," who was in charge of security; Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister and his wife, Ieng Thirith, and Khieu Samphan, the former head of state.
The trials will be a watershed for Cambodians, most of whom had lost hope that the men and women who destroyed their lives would ever be brought to justice.
"I never thought this day would come," Vann Nath, one of only three remaining survivors of Tuol Sleng, told the Times of London. “There has been no hope for so many years."