By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 April 2009
Four groups of senior Khmer Rouge cadre were responsible for the orders of mass killings throughout the regime, jailed prison chief Duch told the court Wednesday.
In response to questioning from an international lawyer for civil parties, Alain Werner, Duch said leaders from seven Khmer Rouge regions, administrators, permanent committee members and headquarters ordered the killings.
“Members of those four groups had the power to order prisons all over the Khmer Rouge,” he said. “They could decide to let people die or remain alive, according to their political interests.”
“They have a high responsibility for crimes facing Cambodian law,” Duch said.
Duch did not name any of the four other jailed leaders of the regime—chief ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and social affairs minister Ieng Thirth.
Tribunal observers said Wednesday’s testimony could be fodder for further investigations and indictments of the court.
However, prosecutors remain at odds over more suspects, with the international prosecutor, Robert Petite, urging further indictments, and his counterpart, Chea Leang, claiming more investigations could destabilize the country.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that more indictments could lead the country back to war, but critics say judges should not make decisions based on political justifications.
Meanwhile, the court has so far been able to bring Duch to trial, as the rest remain in detention, leading to worries each could die before seeing court.
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the tribunal had decided to allow Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan to visit the hospital “one by one.”
Ieng Sary, whose health is the poorest, was sent to the hospital on Wednesday.