Cambodia's UN-backed court has for the first time issued genocide charges against two leaders of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, a tribunal spokesman said on Dec. 16.

Spokesman Lars Olsen said that former Khmer Rouge number two Nuon Chea and former foreign minister Ieng Sary were charged with genocide against the Vietnamese people and ethnic Cham muslims during the 1970s.

"This is the first time that anyone has been charged with genocide" at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Olsen was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying.

The two ex-Khmer Rouge leaders have already been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The ECCC tried its first Khmer Rouge leader, prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, this year.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, commanded Tuol S’leng S-21 prison in Phnom Penh . The ECCC is expected to give a verdict early next year./.