Khmer Rouge Tribunal Holds 1st Public Hearing of Appeal By Duch

Posted by khmernews on November 27, 2007


Angsnuol-Kandal: The Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Tuesday held its first historical hearing to scrutinise the appeal made by Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng prison, against the Co-Investigating Judges’ provisional detention order in August.
The public hearing has been made under careful observation from national and international communities. Since early in the morning, approximately 500 people including national and international journalists, Cambodian victims’ families, international community, politicians, and civil society queued up to cross a security check before they were allowed to enter to see the hearing of the appeal by Duch, who was dissatisfied with the order of his detention.

At 10 a.m. Duch was brought in a Landcruiser with black glass to the court room while a lot of cameras, also from TV stations, were aimed at the car to take the pictures of the former Tuol Sleng Prison’s chief. Then, the hearing started.

The Pre-Trial Chamber has five judges: President Prak Kimsan, Australian Rowan Downing, Dutch Katinka Lahuis, Huot Vuthy and Pen Pech Saly. In the hearing there were also Co-Investigating Judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde, Frenchman, and Co-Prosecutors Chea Leang and Robert Petit, Canadian. Duch’s Co-Defence Lawyers Kar Savuth and Francois Roux, Frenchman, were there to represent Duch.

Judge Prak Kimsan, president of the Pre-Trial Chamber, asked Duch why he wanted to appeal. Putting both of his hands up together to pay respect to the hearing, Duch replied, “The reason I lodged the appeal is I had been detained without trial for 8 years, 6 months, and 10 days already.” After that Duch asked his defence lawyers to give a detailed report to the Pre-Trial Chamber.

Kar Savuth, who has been defence lawyer for Duch for 8 years, explained in detail in an attempt to ask for his client’s release on bail. He used three languages, Khmer, English and French, in the hearing to say that Duch had previously been detained for 8 years by the Military Court before he was detained at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in August.

He claimed that Duch had been beaten and tortured in Military Prison.

“The detention of Duch for 8 years does not conform to Cambodian law since the law allows the detention approximately 3 years only,” he said.

He continued to say that the prolonged incarceration to more than 8 years violated both international humanitarian and Cambodian law.

At the end of the hearing, Kar Savuth made three requests. First, he asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to release his client without condition. If the request is denied, he will make the second request by asking for Duch’s release on bail. He claimed that Duch could not run away. He said that he would give Duch’s address to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and that Duch would have to sign at the police station weekly in order to ensure he did not escape. “If the two requests are rejected, I will make the third request by asking to release Duch provisionally under the control by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal,” he said. Kar Savuth pointed out that the release on bail with the observation from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal would set a role model for the Cambodian court as this tribunal wanted to show a modal for the Cambodian court.

Chea Leang, Co-Prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, raised the crucial reasons for Duch’s provisional detention. She thinks that if Duch is released, he may cause the concern of revenge. Moreover, he might destroy the evidence during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, in which many people were killed.  Moreover, she reasons that the provisional detention is necessary to ensure that Duch will show up in the trial of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Whilst the Pre-Trial Chamber is holding the hearing, families of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime say they want to leave the past events to be judged by law.

Mey Chum, former prisoner in Tuol Sleng, said outside the room of the hearing which was held in a small court room, not the big hall of the tribunal. “Duch should confess before Cambodians and the court,” he said, “Duch must honestly tell who were his leaders and masterminds.” Mr Mey also hopes that Cambodians can conciliate with each other.

Chhun Chin, Cambodian living in the USA, said that he did not agree with Duch’s lawyer. “If Duch is released, Cambodians, especially those who are living in the USA, will not be happy,” he said.

“This first hearing is very important because it has gathered all parties including judges, Co-Prosecutors, lawyers, the accused, victims, politicians, diplomats, and journalists,” said Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Spokesman Reach Sambath, adding that it was a process to eliminate impunity in Cambodia. However, the hearing still does not lead into any decision yet on [November] 20, and is scheduled to continue on November 21.

Duch has been charged with crimes against humanity since he had worked as the chief of Tuol Sleng torture center, in which many thousands of people were killed.

•    Biography and activities of Duch before he was charged and detained
Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was born on November 17, 1942, in the village of Poevveuy, Commune Peam Bang, District Stoeung, Province Kompong Thom. His profession is a teacher.

Duch’s father Kaing Ky died. Duch’s mother Meas Kim Seav is still living. His wife Chheum Sophal died. He has 4 children. He resides at village O Tuntim, Commune Ta Sagn, District Somlot, Province Battambang.

Duch was arrested by the government in 1999 under the law which outlawed the Khmer Rouge in 1994 and sent to the Military Court. The court decided to detain Duch provisionally on May 10, 1999. Duch was first charged by the Military Court with crimes against national security. Four months later after the investigation, Duch was charged with genocidal crimes and later on crimes against humanity.

Duch had been detained at the Military Court for 8 years before he was sent to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on July 31, 2007.

Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a. Duch, is accused of heading the Security Prison S21 between 1975 and 1979, where, under his authority, countless abuses were allegedly committed against the civilian population (arbitrary detention, torture and other inhumane acts, mass executions, etc.), which occurred within a political context of widespread or systematic abuses and constitute crimes against humanity. He is implicated by many documents and several witnesses.

According to various documents left by the Democratic Kampuchea regime, the [S21] prison was a place for detention, interrogations, torture and inhumane executions. More than 10,000 people were imprisoned there and very few could survive the prison after the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled in January 1979.

The Co-Prosecutors of the Extraordinary Chambers request Duch’s placement into provisional on the grounds that:
-there are well founded reasons to believe that he participated in the crimes stated in the introductory submission;
-provisional detention is necessary to prevent pressure on witnesses, notably those witnesses who worked under Duch’s authority;
-given the risk of flight it is necessary in order to ensure the presence of the charged person during the proceedings and to protect his personality; and
-finally, it is necessary to preserve public order.
Within the context of the military proceedings, he was placed in provisional detention beginning 10 May, 1999.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 15, #4442, Wednesday, November 21, 2007.


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