When the long-awaited trial of four former Khmer Rouge leaders starts in Cambodia on Monday, SIIA Associate Fellow Mahdev Mohan will be one of the lawyers representing the victims.
The 32-year-old is an assistant professor of law at the Singapore Management University.
A legal team he led helped investigate mass crimes against the Khmer Krom who, along with other minorities such as Cham Muslims, the Buddhist clergy and the Vietnamese, were targeted by the then ruling Khmer Rouge in a mass crackdown. The ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge presided over the 'Killing Fields' period between 1975 and 1979, in which more than a million people perished.
This is the first time Singaporean lawyers have been involved in an international war crimes trial - before a United Nations-backed special tribunal comprising five overseas judges.
Some 83 victims will be represented by Mr Mohan's team, whose efforts also led to a separate case being laid out against Khmer Rouge zonal commanders for atrocities specifically committed against the Khmer Krom. These charges will be considered for a separate trial.
Mr Mohan said the work in Cambodia has spillover effects for Singaporean lawyers.
'If we get some lawyers involved in the Khmer Rouge trials, that puts us on the international scene and allows us to meet and mingle with people of a certain stature, which hopefully sets the stage for Singaporean lawyers to be involved in international work as well,' he added.
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