Khmernews

Judicial Investigation Against DUCH To End in the First Half of 2008

Posted by khmernews on November 12, 2007

Chan Chamnan

The Co-Investigating Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal announced Thursday that the judicial investigation regarding the crimes attributed to Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng S21 torture center, where is believed to be related to mass killings, will come to a close in the first half of 2008. However, the first public hearing of appeal by Duch will get underway soon in order to determine whether he could be released on bail.
Meanwhile, Anlong Veng’s District Deputy Governor Nhem En, former Khmer Rouge prison photographer at Tuol Sleng, has already been summoned to testify as witness at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“The Co-Investigating Judges consider that the judicial investigation regarding the alleged crimes attributed to DUCH in connection with the S21 detention centre should be brought to a close in the coming months (to the extent possible, during the first half of 2008). Therefore, on 19 September 2007, they decided, in order to ensure good judicial administration, to order the separation of the DUCH case as regards these alleged crimes, in order to close this part of the investigation without having to await the results of additional investigations concerning the other alleged crimes referred to in the Introductory Submission by the Co-Prosecutors, dated 18 July 2007,” said the press release, which also stated the health condition of Nuon Chea, former Brother Number Two of the Killing Fields regime.

After being kept for almost 8 years at the military prison, Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as Duch, 65, has been placed under the provisional detention order in the detention cell at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since July 31, 2007 under the accusation of the crimes against humanity.

“In addition to the crimes alleged to have been perpetrated in connection with the S21 detention centre, the ongoing judicial investigation covers three broad categories of alleged crimes: forced movements of the population; killings, torture and other abuses,” the statement said.

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which has also been participated by the United Nations, is scheduled to take three years and spend $56.3 million for the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, accused of mass murder of estimated 1.7 million Cambodians.

Recently, Hor Namhong, deputy-prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, claimed that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal needed another additional year. “And the concerning problem is the shortage of funds…” he said.

The Khmer Rouge regime has been condemned for mass killings of 1.7 million Cambodians between April 17, 1975 and early January 1979.

At the present time, only Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng prison, and Nuon Chea, former president of the National Assembly of the Khmer Rouge regime, are in custody. Meanwhile, national and international communities seem to lack of faith in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Pol Pot, [top leader of the Khmer Rouge regime], died and was cremated without funeral in the jungle along Thai border in Anlong Veng in April 1998 whilst Ta Mok, former Khmer Rouge commander of propaganda, died of illnesses in Preah Ket Mealea Hospital on July 26, 2006.

Khieu Samphan, former president of the Khmer Rouge State Presidium, Ieng Sary, former deputy-prime minister, foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge regime, and Ieng Thirith, whose real name was Khieu Thirith, former social affairs minister of the Khmer Rouge regime, are living with freedom.

However, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith are believed to be amongst the suspects who will be brought to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal soon. Khieu Samphan has been ready to testify at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal if summoned, and he has found lawyers to defend him already. Khieu Samphan has recently claimed that he was a “patriot” and that Vietnam was deeply related to the Khmer Rouge regime. [However], the claim has been overruled by the spokesman to the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile, while visiting Thailand for heart treatment, Ieng Sary told journalists that he had not known about and been related to the mass killings during the Khmer Rouge regime. A litter later, Ieng Thirith, Ieng Sary’s wife, has been reported mentally ill. Her illness was like that of her sister Khieu Bunnary, Pol Pot’s wife, who already died. After all, no one knows where Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith are at the present time and everything seems to be mysterious.

The United States is observing very carefully the process of the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, according to Joseph A. Mussomeli, US ambassador to Cambodia. However, up to the present time the US has not funded the Khmer Rouge Tribunal directly yet, but provided funds to the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) for their research on the documents related to crimes during the Khmer Rouge regime. The reason that the US does not financially support the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is because of the corruption scandal in the tribunal.

Observers of the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal say that the tribunal is facing many obstacles, especially the shortage of funds in early 2008. Therefore, Cambodians might not sense the light of “real” justice despite the coming trial of Duch.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol. 14, #3302, Saturday-Sunday, November 3-4, 2007.

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