(CNN) -- The most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Nuon Chea, has been declared fit for trial by a United Nations-backed court in Cambodia, the agency said Friday.
Nuon, the right-hand man to late leader Pol Pot and a former Cambodian prime minister, is reportedly 86 years old and is accused of murder and torture. He waived his right to be present in court Friday because of health reasons, including heart disease, the United Nations said.
Earlier this month, former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary died in Phnom Penh at age 87, said the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the U.N.-backed court. He was Pol Pot's brother-in-law and escaped judgment for war crimes.
The communist Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot was blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people through torture, execution, hard labor and starvation from 1975 to 1979.