Monday, 25 August 2008

Appeal in Duch closing order

Cambodge Soir


The co-prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) appealed Duch’s closing order, stating that it overlooked some of the accused responsibilities, according to a release on Thursday August 21.

The August 8, closing order drafted by co-investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng indicted Duch, former S-21 prison chief for “crimes against humanity” and “serious breaches of the August 12, 1949 Geneva Convention”.

The co-prosecutors argued that the co-investigating judges omitted charges for breach of the 1956 Cambodian Penal code which according to the release “could highlight the criminal demeanour of Duch and […] reinforce the Cambodian people’s feelings that this trial belongs to them”.

The co-judges mentioned violations of articles 500, 501, 503 and 506 of Cambodian Law on homicide and torture, and stated in the indictment that these crimes “should be prosecuted at the highest legal level, one of crimes against humanity or for serious breaches of the August 12, 1949 Geneva Convention.” Moreover, the prosecutors asserted that the closing order did not mention part of Duch’s responsibilities “as co-perpetrator of an important number of crimes committed at S-21”.

Yet, the closing order accused Duch of “personally torturing inmates” and inflicting “maltreatment”, accusations which have always been denied by the accused.

But the indictment focuses more on administrative responsibility rather than any personal commitment in perpetrating the atrocities carried out at S-21. Before the co-prosecutors’ appeal the trial was due to start in September and last four months.

The co-prosecutors have until September 10 to finalise their appeal submission and indicated that “[they] took into account the expectations of the Cambodian people and the international community in bringing [the accused] to trial as soon as possible”.

“No parties want to delay the opening of the trial” declared KRT spokesman Reach Sambath. The trial should start either late September or early October which does not make a big difference. The co-prosecutors and the co-investigating judges started to draft a new closing order friday so that a new text can be finalised as soon as possible.”

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