Monday, 27 July 2009

Hamill to testify at Khmer Rouge tribunal

July 27, 2009

One day short of 31 years after his brother was abducted, tortured and killed by Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia Rob Hamill is to testify before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Kerry Hamill ended up at the S-21 or Tuol Sleng prison headed by Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, when the yacht he and friends were sailing strayed into Cambodian waters on August 13 1978.

One crewman, Canadian Stuart Glass, was shot while Mr Hamill and Briton John Dewhirst were taken for interrogation and torture for two months before being killed.

Mr Hamill, like the estimated 17,000 who entered Tuol Sleng's gates, was forced to make confessions and he claimed to be a CIA spy.

Duch is the first of Pol Pot's henchmen to face trial before the joint UN-backed Cambodian-international court, officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), on which New Zealand judge Dame Silvia Cartwright is one of the five judges.

Mr Hamill is to testify on August 12.

"I expect to experience the widest possible range of emotions when I see Duch," Mr Hamill said.

"A lot of nervous energy will be expended."

When the trial opened in April Duch apologised for heading the prison but said he was acting on orders.

"Duch says he is sorry and wants forgiveness, but I want to find out whether he truly understands the impact of what he did and the damage he caused," Mr Hamill said.

"I'm not sure that he does comprehend what he and the Khmer Rouge did to the people of Cambodia, let alone to the families of Kerry, John and Stuart."

A documentary, Brother Number One, telling Mr Hamill's story is being produced by Annie Goldson, James Bellamy and Mr Hamill for Pan Pacific Films, funded by NZ on Air and TV3.

Duch faces charges including crimes against humanity, breaches of the Geneva Convention and violations of the Cambodian penal code including premeditated murder. Up to 2 million people died of starvation, overwork, torture or were executed during the 1975-1979 regime.

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