Various Views on Reasons Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Not Allowed to Communicate With One Another

Posted by khmernews on December 11, 2007

Chan Chamnan

The former senior Khmer Rouge leaders who are being detained at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are not allowed to see each other, according to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s security officials. Ly Kimseng, Nuon Chea’s wife, who visited her husband in prison 3 times already, said that before Nuon Chea did the exercise (in detention facility), he was scheduled to do it at different time from others. “They cannot see each other,” she said. “They (the tribunal) might be afraid that my husband and the others would talk to each other if they meet,” claimed Ly Kimseng.
Until now five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders and people most responsible during the Khmer Rouge regime have been put in Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s detention facility under crimes against humanity and war crimes charges. Those five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders and most responsible people include Nuon Chea, former president of the National Assembly, Khieu Samphan, former president of State Presidium, Ieng Sary, former deputy prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs, Ieng Thirith, whose real name was Khieu Thirith, former social affairs minister, and Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng prison of the “Killing Fields” regime.

According to Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s officials, even Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith are also detained separately. ECCC’s Spokesman Reach Sambath claimed that prohibiting those people from seeing or talking to each other was the tribunal’s law. “This is the legal procedure of the tribunal. Since they are the suspects under the order of provisional detention, they cannot communicate with or talk to each other, besides talking to their lawyers and family members,” said Reach Sambath, adding that it was the international norms.

Son Arun, Nuon Chea’s defence lawyer, accepts that the prohibition is not a mistake since it is the court’s legal procedure, while Ing Sary’s defence lawyer Ang Udom also did that it is lawful but the prohibition does not allow them (former Khmer Rouge leaders) even to talk to or see each other normally is too much and callous.

Hisham Mousar, coordinator of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal project of the rights group ADHOC, supports the prohibition that the detained former Khmer Rouge leaders have been prohibited from communicating with each other because it conforms to the international norms. Some observers and civil society organizations’ officials also support the prohibition.

According to the Khmer Rouge Tribunals’ officials, those former senior Khmer Rouge leaders who are being detained have been properly taken care of. They are given enough foods (3 meals a day), their cells are equipped with air-conditioning system, television and radio, they have rights to news, and there are doctors on standby to check their health. Human rights organizations’ officials claimed that the 5 former senior Khmer Rouge leaders detained in at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal under severe charges had more freedom than millions of Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge regime who had not had any guilt at all but had been prohibited to speak and separated from their relatives.

On November 20-21 the Khmer Rouge Tribunal heard the case of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, former Tuol Sleng prison’s chief, in order to decide whether or not Duch should be released on bail. After the two-day hearing Co-Prosecutors Chea Leang and Robert Petit requested to continue to detain Duch. The verdict will be released soon by the Co-Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Many civil society organizations’ officials who have carefully observed Duch’s appeal hearing predict that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Co-Judges may not allow Duch to be released on bail since Duch is charged with very severe crimes.  Moreover, when Duch was the chief of Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison, no prisoners were allowed to be released on bail or freed.

According to the schedule of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders will be held in early 2008 despite some obstacles. Amongst those obstacles the budgetary shortfalls are the most concerning problem. The funds will have run out by April 2008 if the United Nations and the Cambodian government do not find more funds in time. Moreover, the corruption scandal still continues to make some donors lose faith and decide not to fund the Khmer Rouge Tribunal though the tribunal is moving forward.

Cambodians living inside and outside the country as well as observers and international diplomats want the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders to get underway soon in order to reveal the masterminds who created the Khmer Rouge regime and the reasons which caused the mass murder of more than 1.7 million Cambodians during the ruthless “Killing Fields” regime.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol. 14, #3320, Saturday-Sunday, November 24-25, 2007.


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