TIMELINE-Cambodia's Khmer Rouge era
(Reuters) - Chief Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," went on trial for crimes against humanity on Tuesday, 30 years after the fall of Pol Pot's regime, blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people in Cambodia.
A handful of ageing and infirm leaders from the movement are due to be tried at a joint Cambodian-United Nations tribunal set up to prosecute "senior leaders" and those "most responsible" for one of the worst periods of the 20th century.
Below is an overview of the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge:
1953 - King Norodom Sihanouk proclaims independence from France, but soon abdicates to go into politics.
March 1969 - Secret U.S. bombing of Vietnamese communist bases in Cambodia begins.
March 18, 1970 - U.S.-backed premier Lon Nol ousts Sihanouk as prime minister while the latter is on an overseas trip.
April 17, 1975 - Khmer Rouge seize Phnom Penh and immediately start emptying cities and towns in a bid to create a totally agrarian society. An estimated 1.7 million people die during their nearly four years in power.
Dec 25, 1978 - Vietnam starts invasion of Cambodia after a series of increasingly daring cross-border Khmer Rouge raids.
Jan 7, 1979 - Vietnamese troops occupy Phnom Penh, driving Pol Pot to the Thai border. The occupation is to last 10 years.
May 1993 - U.N.-run election produces shaky coalition between Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla installed as prime minister by Hanoi in the mid-1980s.
July 1997 - Pol Pot ousted as Khmer Rouge leader.
April 15, 1998 - Pol Pot dies in the jungle-clad mountain redoubt of Anlong Veng on Thai border.
Feb 9, 1999 - Last Khmer Rouge guerrillas surrender.
March 2003 - After years of negotiations, Cambodia and the U.N. agree on a draft agreement on the format for the "Killing Fields" tribunal. The draft agreement is sent to the U.N. General Assembly and the Cambodian National Assembly for approval before work can go ahead on establishing the court.
April 29, 2005 - The U.N. says legal requirements are met and sufficient funding is in place for the Khmer Rouge trials.
June 2007 - Cambodian and international judges agree on the rules of the tribunal, allowing it to proceed in earnest.
September 17, 2007 - "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's top surviving cadre, is charged with crimes against humanity. Similar charges are filed in November against ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, his wife, and former President Khieu Samphan.
December 2007 - Chief Khmer Rouge jailer Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, loses bail request. The court rejects bail requests from other former Khmer Rouge leaders in 2008.
Feb 17, 2009 - Duch is first of Pol Pot's cadres to face trial, charged with crimes against humanity for his role as chief of the S-21 torture centre where at least 14,000 people were killed.
(Compiled by Darren Schuettler )
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