MOSCOW, August 7 (RAPSI) - A court in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh handed down life sentences to two former leaders of the Khmer Rouge party that orchestrated the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s. It is the toughest possible punishment in the country, AFP reports.

The court found Nuon Chea, "Brother Number Two" after Pol Rot and the regime’s chief ideologist, and Khieu Samphan, the 87-year-old ex-formal leader of the country, of crimes against humanity and satisfied the prosecution’s request for the maximum sentence possible.

AFP reports that the trial was the first in a series of legal actions against the leaders of the Khmer Rouge party that were responsible for the terror in the country in the 1970s. The trial in Cambodia started several years ago. The prosecution claims that over three and a half years (1975 to 1979), the ruling Khmer Rouge party killed 25% of the urban and 15% of the rural population of the country, which is almost two million people.

The Khmer Rouge, or the Communist Party of Kampuchea, led by Pol Rot seized power in Cambodia in 1975 after a long guerilla war. The “Red” government of Cambodia was one of the most murderous regimes of the 20th century. In January 1979, Pol Rot was brought down. He fled to the jungles with his remaining followers and died of cancer on April 15, 1998.