Why Are Witnesses Afraid of Revenge?

Posted by khmernews on March 29, 2007

Despite the protection and the claim from a parliamentarian of Pailin (once a place controlled by the Khmer Rouge) that all former Khmer Rouges will obey law, some witnesses of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are afraid that the [former] Khmer Rouges will take revenge.

For instance, a former Toul Sleng prisoner Chum March, who is preparing himself to be a witness in the coming trial, is always worrying about the revenge from the former Khmer Rouges. He requests the [tribunal] to tighten up the security. Moreover, some other witnesses seem to be hesitated to answer in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) about the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge leaders.

Concerning the security problem, a senior official of the Ministry of Interior claimed that the security is a key factor for the success of the process of finding justice for victims.

It should be reminded that the witness protection and the ECCC compound security have been strengthened in 2007. Moreover, there is training course for 121 justice police officials early this week.

The ECCC have tightened up the security as the investigation has been started whilst the trial against the former Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to be held in 2007.

“International police will be scattered inside the ECCC’s compound while national police will be stationed outside,” said the Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath.

So far there has been apprehension among the public that the former Khmer Rouge leaders will stand up and work against the Khmer Rouge trial since Noun Chea, Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Sary have always denied knowing the mass killings during their control for 3 years, 8 months and 20 days. Moreover, some former senior Khmer Rouge cadres have shown their disappointment over the prosecutions against their former leaders. They raised their so-called reason that they want to have a national reconciliation so that it will end conflict between Cambodians and to find real peace and happiness as they are fed up with the separation and the killings of Khmer people.

In contrast, if the tribunal cannot prosecute the former senior Khmer Rogue leaders including Noun Chea, Khieu Samphon, and Ieng Sary, the tribunal will not be able to find justice for the victims of the Democratic Kampuchea regime. As a result, witnesses of the tribunal are hesitated to appear in the ECCC since they are afraid that when they reveal the truth, people who are still loyal to Noun Chea, Ieng Sary, and Khieu Samphan will take revenge.

However, Pailin parliamentarian claimed that the former Khmer Rouges obey the policy of national reconciliation and unity, want to justice for the victims and avoid bloody war to happen again.

It is noticed that 121 police officials have been trained on the new investigation techniques to meet the requirement of this special tribunal.

Tribunal co-investigating-judge Marcel Lemond, whose section has helped prepare the training, pointed out that the training is in accordance with the international law.

Tribunal co-prosecutor Robert Betit said that the justice police will use different methods to collect evidence for the tribunal since the “elements” of crimes shown in the ECCC will be different from those in the national court.

So far, there has been only Khang Kek Ieu, known as Duch, who has been detained in the military prison.  Duch is expected to be the first to stand in the trial for the prosecution.

But what astonished people is that as the tribunal is preparing for the trial, witnesses are being fearful. Hence, the people who are responsible for the security should consider this problem carefully as it’s not unreasonable for the witnesses to think about their safety.

(Informal Translation)
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer. Vol.14, #3084. Friday, February 9, 2007.   


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