“Packaged Trials” Bewilder Justice Finding At KR Court

Posted by khmernews on August 14, 2007

Chey Sachakk

The “packaged trials” of former Khmer Rouge (KR) leaders have caused vagueness in the KR Tribunal’s judicial process.

An announcement about the legal procedure of the trials of former KR leaders who are responsible for the mass murder of almost 2 million people has been made one week after the tribunal charged Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former head of Tuol Sleng prison, with crimes against humanity and placed him in provisional detention at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

Concerning the “packaged trials” of former KR leaders, the general public seems not to be very satisfied with it. However, Reach Sambath, KR Tribunal’s spokesman, claimed that if they committed the same crimes, they could be put in the same trials. “But if the crimes [they committed] are different, they will be in different trials,” he said.

“…. The “packaged trials” will be a new modal in the international criminal legal system. It is also very useful for cases like in Cambodia,” said Reach Sambath.

“If the “packaged trials” can be held, they will help reduce time and money consuming,” he added.

Recently, the KR Tribunal has announced that 5 suspects will be brought to justice, and the tribunal has also announced that the first trial will be held in early 2008.

Concerning the “packaged trials”, Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde said, “It is necessary that we meet and discuss the legal procedure. Since we are in the investigating phase, we cannot tell anything or comment on what to do.”

However, Cambodian lawyer groups said that in the present Cambodian court system, there were also “packaged trials” and that but there were difficulties for the accused.

“When a judge sees that someone is guilty, s/he might see the others in the same way,” said Sok Sam Oeun, director of the legal aid group Cambodian Defenders Project.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), personally said, “The “packaged trials” are good for history, but the “individual trials” are more exact in legal system.”

At present, only Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, has been charged with crimes against humanity. Other four suspects still haven’t been made public, but they are focused on Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan, who are believed to be amongst the people to be detained with Duch.

Why have the Co-Investigating Judges charged Duch with crimes against humanity? KR history researcher explained that in January 1979, after the KR regime was toppled by the Vietnamese troops, S-21 Security Center has been discovered in the center of Phnom Penh. Now, S-21 Security Center has become Tuol Sleng genocide museum.

A monk who has paid a study visit to Tuol Sleng prison has shown his profound shock toward what he has seen and pointed out that, “I could see a lot of terrifying views in the southern building such as beds with chains, a lot of photos of Tuol Sleng prisoner victims, pictures of the mass graves, places for beating blindfolded prisoners from behind, pictures of maltreatment such as the Khmer Rouge dissecting people, pulling people’s nails, ducking people, and even sawing people’s throats.”

Researchers said that the Democratic Kampuchea Regime had created S-21 Security Center or Bureau S-21 in 1976. Bureau S-21 or prison of the Communist Party of Kampuchea was the former Tuol Svay Prey high school. It was under the control of Son Sen and directed by Kiang Guek Eav, known as Duch.

Duch headed around 70 interrogators, 50 document administrators, and 150 prison guards.

From its opening in May 1976 until January 7, 1979, it is believed that at least 14,000 people such as men, women, and children were accused of betraying the nation or being revolutionary enemy and brought to the bureau.

All the prisoners were tortured for months before they were brought to be killed mostly at Beung Cheung Aek Killing Fields.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3231, Wednesday, August 08, 2007.


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