Duch Knows that He Will Die before the Trials

Posted by khmernews on January 31, 2007

A military court official, who asked not to be named, said that Khan Khek Leu, also known as Duch, the former chief of Tuol Sleng prison (S-21) during the Khmer Rouge regime, knew that he would not be able to appear in the Khmer Rouge tribunal and thus would not be tried.

Duch was arrested and has been detained without trial in Tuol Sleng military prison since 1999. Criminal law was amended to have Duch imprisoned for a period of five years and despite the five-year-long detention period being over, Duch has not yet been tried or released yet.

UK-based international Human Rights Watch has called for Duch to be released.

Ka Savuth, Duch’s lawyer, has expressed little reaction to the appeal for the release of Duch saying that according to the law on the prosecution of the senior former Khmer Rouge leaders, Duch should not be tried because he was a middle-ranking Khmer Rouge cadre.

Legal officials said that whether he will be tried or not, Duch is still an important witness because he was a former chief of Tuol Sleng prison. Nonetheless, imprisonment of Duch without trials is against the law. Strongman Hun Sen, who is the current ruler, has strongly reacted against the appeal for the release of Duch, saying that a detained tiger should not be freed and allowed to enter the forest again.

A senior Khmer Rouge leader has made it known that Duch is different from Ta Mok. He argued that Duch was the chief of Tuol Sleng prison and the former Khmer Rouge soldiers did not know him, whilst Ta Mok was a former Khmer Rouge commander and was well-known among Khmer Rouge people. Because Ta Mok lived amongst them, the former Khmer Rouge soldiers adored him.

Therefore, Ta Mok’s release would be terrifying, while Duch’s would not. If the government is to respect the law, it should free Duch. Although there has been some controversy over his release, Duch is unlikely to be concerned about that because of health problems which will probably mean that he dies before the tribunal starts. Duch has therefore confirmed that he would not be tried in the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

There is a lot of controversy over the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s legal procedures amongst both the international community and Cambodian and international lawyers. Duch thought that this was just a means to delay the start of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

He has however recognized that he was the former chief of Tuol Sleng, and that he knew a lot about the regime. The tribunal will be delayed until all former Khmer Rouge leaders have died. Without defendants in the court, judges can make any decision they wish.

Khmer Rouge tribunal is a sensitive issue and it will embarrass some countries. Therefore, all defendants including Duch, who have been in jail, do not want to appear in court. Consequently, Duch said that he will not be tried.

Extracted from: Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3050, Monday 01.01. 2007  


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