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Genocide Tribunal to Try Duch Soon

The UN-backed Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal has filed its final submission in the case of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who ran a notorious torture centre during the 1970s. “It is expected to be held by late September or early October, but no date has been fixed. We will announce at least two weeks in advance to the public,” said Reach Sambath, a spokesman for the tribunal.”

Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, at the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal

Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, at the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal

Duch, the former chief of the notorious S21 centre -- a high school that was converted into a torture centre in Phnom Penh -- has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to the tribunal’s indictment order. at least 12,380 individuals were unlawfully killed at S21, also known as Tuol Sleng. More than 1,000 people died when their bodies were emptied of blood.

Chum Mei, an S21 survivor, says he is “glad” there will be a trial soon: “I have been waiting for this hearing for more than 20 years. However, I am still concerned that the hearing might not proceed while the Khmer Rouge leaders are still alive.”

Making history

The 65-year-old Duch has been in prison since 1999. He was transferred to the custody of the UN-backed court in July last year. There are four more former Khmer Rouge leaders currently in detention on similar charges. Duch is the first suspect to have been indicted by the tribunal.

“It will put on the historical record of the court because it will be the first time in the court history that there has been a trial. This trial will end all the bad speculation against the court,” said Sambath.

The most important prisoners under the Khmer Rouge regime were sent to S-21, which was the most important security detention centre in Cambodia, employing top regime officers. The centre had the authority to arrest, torture and execute people from every zone, ministry, and military unit in the nation.

Orders from above

Duch, a former mathematics teacher, has reportedly admitted to ordering torture but says he was acting on orders from higher up.

Chum Mei says he wants answers to his questions: “I want to know why I was brought to S21 and tormented. I want to know why they killed my innocent family.”

Only 14 people are known to have survived their detention in S21.

In total, up to two million people died of starvation, overwork or by execution under the Communist Khmer Rouge during its 1975-1979 rule. The supreme leader Pol Pot died in 1998. He never showed any remorse.

  • Date 20.08.2008
  • Author Soratha Chan
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsBa
  • Date 20.08.2008
  • Author Soratha Chan
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsBa