CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia -- Frustrated by sluggish progress in negotiations for a genocide tribunal, hundreds of Cambodians gathered Saturday to pray for justice during an annual holiday dedicated to the 1.7 million victims of the Khmer Rouge.
Buddhist chants and wisps of incense mingled with thousands of human skulls on display at a mass grave on the outskirts of Phnom Penh where about 500 people joined to mark the officially sanctioned ''Day of Anger.''
Despite recent progress in negotiations for a U.N.-backed tribunal, several expressed frustration that more than a year of talks has yet to produce an agreement.
''I have asked myself many times whether I will ever see justice done for me and those who died,'' said Van Nath, one of a handful of prisoners who survived the Khmer Rouge's infamous Tuol Sleng torture center.
''It's getting late for me and I begin to feel hopeless,'' said the 54-year-old artist, who still suffers chronic stress and nightmares from a year in the brutal gulag.
The bones that fill a monument at the center of the mass grave belong to 15,000 of Van Nath's fellow inmates, who were trucked out to Choeung Ek and executed.
During their radical communist revolution in the late 1970s, the Khmer Rouge abolished religion, money and traditional family life in a doomed quest for an agrarian utopia.
They were ousted by a Vietnamese invasion after nearly four years in power, but continued to wage war until leader Pol Pot died of an apparent heart attack in 1998. About a dozen former top Khmer Rouge leaders remain free in Cambodia, beneficiaries of defection deals negotiated by Prime Minister Hun Sen's government to end their insurgency.
Cambodia and the United Nations appear on the verge of trying former Khmer Rouge leaders.
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