5 Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Detained, More To be Arrested

Posted by khmernews on December 11, 2007


The arrest of Khieu Samphan from Calmette Hospital two weeks ago was the last arrest of the 5 surviving former Khmer Rouge leaders to be detained and charged with war crimes by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. However, there are some free detention cells left.  The Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s court officials claim that more arrests will be made soon.
“The Co-Prosecutors are continuing their work,” said Peter Foster, U.N. Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s spokesman, “They have not stopped their work, and another group will come here.” He added that quite a lot of people would be arrested.

In the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s detention facility, there are 6 cells for men. At the moment four of them have been occupied. There are 2 other cells for women. One is occupied by Ieng Thirith already and the other is for another female former Khmer Rouge leader.

“We have eight cells, but the number of the people to be arrested depends on the Co-Prosecutors and the Co-Investigating Judges,” said Reach Sambath, spokesman for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

The mandate of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is for the trial of most responsible former senior Khmer Rouge leaders. However, as some former top Khmer Rouge leaders have already died, it is expected that the court will focus on surviving former senior Khmer Rouge officials. Since June the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been sturdily moving forward the trial in July next year. After Comrade Duch was charged in late July, Nuon Chea was arrested. Then, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith were also arrested in early November, and eventually, Khieu Samphan was arrested on November 19.

“The court is on its right schedule,” said Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde. “We hope that the trial will be made as soon as possible. Duch is the first to be prosecuted. I cannot say about the set trial, but it is clear that the trial will start in the next summer,” said Lemonde. The investigation into Duch will be finished in the first 6 months of 2008.

Up to the present time, only Duch’s case can be separated from the other accused. The court has yet to tell whether other suspects will be tried separately or in group.

On December 1st, the court announced that it would release Duch’s verdict of the appeal hearing on November 20-21.

Duch’s hearing was the first public hearing. Wearing a short white shirt, the former Tuol Sleng prison chief listened very carefully to Judge Huot Vuthy when he was reading the case file in the court room.

“I appeal because I have been detained for more than 8 years,” Duch responded to the question by Pre-Trial Judge Prak Kimsan, who had asked him why he appealed.

Duch was born on November 17, 1947 and has been put in behind bar since the arrest on May 10, 1999. He was firstly detained at the Cambodian Military Court, but then transferred to the detention facility of the hybrid tribunal on July 10, 2007. During the hearing Duch’s French lawyer Francois Roux told Pre-Trial Chamber’s Judges, “We do not request to cancel this process. We only request the court to accept that it has violated rights of the detainee.”

Rupert Skillbeck, Chief of Defence Support Section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, said that the hearing took two days was not a surprise since it was just the first public hearing, which ended with the translation into French and English.

“This is the competence of justice. It is simple that the legal discussion takes 2 or 3 days,” he said, “It is a gradual process to test the evidence and to discuss publicly in order to ensure that the Judges can listen before they make the decision which is important.”

510 seats in the great hall were all occupied in the morning of the hearing day on November [20]. Another court room was for journalists to observe the hearing. However, in the afternoon almost all of the observers did not attend, but let the journalists to observe.

“This issue is not very beneficial for ordinary people, but it shows a hearing which is conducted correctly,” said Lemonde, adding that it showed legal discussion prior to decision making. “The hearing is not only for an understanding of the legal, but also for fulfilling the observers,” he said. “The response of Cambodians to the first hearing has been shown that what we are doing here is not completely useless,” he claimed.

“The biggest concern of the court like the one shown in the hearing is the incorrect translation,” said Foster.

“This is the first time that I see Duch’s face although I was jailed in S-21 prison for 3 months. I dared not to look at his face,” said Mey Chum, 77, Tuol Sleng prison’s survivor, who also attended the hearing. “I do not feel revengeful with him. The only thing I want is that he tells the truth before the court and it is enough,” said Chum Mey. “If he wants to apologize to the public, I will forgive. I think Duch should be detained until the day of the commencement of the official trial. If the court releases him, I am not afraid that he comes to kill me, but that the court will lose an important witness,” he said.

Meun Sos, 53, a Cambodian Muslim, who is living in Krouch Chmar district, Kompong Cham province, said that more than 30 of his relatives had been killed during Pol Pot regime. “I want the court to sentence him (Duch) to life in imprisonment,” said Meun, “Our country does not have capital punishment; therefore, life imprisonment is enough for him.”

The hearing has been conducted one day after the arrest of Khieu Samphan. Khieu Samphan’s wife So Socheat said that Khieu Samphan had not been allowed to have his health checked at somewhere else other than Calmette Hospital. “The government brought him to this hospital and arrested him for the detention,” she said.

Various court officials said that they decided to arrest Khieu Samphan at Calmette Hospital when they had been informed that his health was better.

Khieu Samphan has chosen two lawyers, Say Borey, first president of the Cambodian Bar Association established in 1995 and Jacques Verges, known as “Devil’s advocate”, Paris Bar’s member, who has defended a number of cases including that of Nazi war crimes suspect Klaus Barbie.

Khieu Samphan lawyers said that they would appeal against the detention of Khieu Samphan and request the court to release him on bail. “All lawyers hope that their client will be freed, but the decision depends on judges,” said Say Borey.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Sralanh Khmer, Vol. 03, #565, Sunday-Monday, December 2-3, 2007.


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