Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Undercover expat plies the Penh's underworld

Photo by: Christopher Shay
Trust no one: In the hands of "Filipe Ylan Cordell", a mobile phone is a powerful surveillance tool.

The sponsor wanted to know: would she cheat? would she go home with a customer? Apparently she makes a lot of money ...

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Christopher Shay

It can be tough to know whom to trust in Cambodia’s seamy capital city – which is why one undercover expatriate is making a living as a private investigator

PHNOM Penh's private eye points to a bar girl and then to a man in white button-up shirt a few seats away and tells me he's sleeping with her. He's certain.

The man has been hunched over his drink since we arrived at the bar, hardly acknowledging the woman. How does he know?

"I've looked into it," he said, declining to elaborate further.

Moments later, the bar girl comes up to the detective and playfully hits him on the shoulder. With a little sweet talk and a friendly smile, it doesn't take long for the private investigator (PI) to make her spill the beans.

She tells him the man in the white shirt is a "special friend" - confirming the PI's story - but the woman denies she'll sleep with him again tonight.

The girly bar gumshoe doesn't believe her.

At the end of the night, we watch the man walks upstairs - the same floor as the woman's bedroom. The Khmer Private Eye was right, again.

Felipe Ylan Cordell, one of three names the detective goes by, started private detective work only about four months ago and says he has finished 16 cases. But he says he has yet to be surprised.

"The core of my business is from old, unmarried foreign men who have fallen in love with a Khmer girl who may be living a double life," he said.

Of the sixteen cases, Cordell has only found one case of a target remaining faithful.
"Bad odds for foreigners," he said.

To help with his investigation, Cordell has an array of Bond-film gadgets, including a pen with a tiny camera that can record sounds and video from 15 metres away. He can even monitor and control someone else's mobile phone.

He makes his client give the target a mobile phone with special software that allows an outside user to read texts and listen to a person's calls.

"When their phones ring, my phone rings," he said. "The cell phone is the most amazing weapon for surveillance."

So long as the phone's on, he says, he can turn it into a listening device, transforming his mark's phone into a bug.

The detective also employs a motodop and two tuk-tuk drivers to follow people, helping him discreetly follow a target.

"The surveillance isn't always me. I have eyes everywhere," he said.

But the best source, he says, doesn't involve fancy technology or motodops waiting in the shadows. Often, the targets themselves tell him they're cheating.

"As soon as they know I'm not a potential client, they boast about it. They laugh about it," he said.

Cordell doesn't limit himself to investigating women, though. Sometimes the bar girls hire him.

One woman - a bar girl before her boyfriend told her stop working - rang up Cordell and asked for help. Her Australian boyfriend told her they had to stop seeing each other for a month because his wife was visiting.

"She knew about the wife and was fine with it, but she suspected the boyfriend was just using it as an excuse to visit other bar girls," he said.

Adrenaline rush
But the woman did not have the money to pay for Cordell's detective work, so she somehow extracted the money from her boyfriend, he said.

"It's my favourite case because the man paid for his own investigation," Cordell said. "It was especially satisfying because he was guilty."

Thinking about the case brings a smile to his face. Though he has never been in physical danger in his job, he says there's an adrenaline rush.

Not guilty
"I'm getting a buzz from the business," he said.

He says that he has never felt particularly guilty about snooping on people's private lives, though he refuses to investigate a case if the couple have children because he doesn't want to break up families.

"But if I decide to take a case on," he said, "then I've decided to do objectively," adding "I don't judge who's in the right or who's in the wrong."

The bar girl comes back to our table with another round of beers and pokes Cordell in the back, challenging him to a game of pool.

Professional distance?
He tells me he normally doesn't get involved with the target. When he's working, he makes it clear that he's not interested in any of the girls.

Except once, when he took a target home.

"The sponsor wanted to know, would she cheat? Would she go home with a customer?" he said.
"Apparently she makes a lot of money - even more than a detective," he added.

Cordell charges US$300 plus expenses - which usually just consists of a few drinks - for a three-day investigation.

He says he's expanding his business to include more serious investigative work, and that he's even training another full-time PI to help.

"I see my company as one day being outside help for those companies that have the contacts and need someone to take an investigation further," he said.

But he added that he doesn't see a shortage of work from the bars anytime soon "so long as 50- or 60-year-old obese foreign men are bedding gorgeous 20-year-olds".

Beyond the cliches: a clear-eyed look at corruption in Thailand

Thai protesters carry red sheet-wrapped boxes said to be containing a petition ahead of a march to the royal offices at the Grand Palace, in downtown Bangkok on Monday. AFP

go to thailand, get drunk, steal stuff, get caught, abuse the police and you will probably be arrested.

Decline in asian travel seen slowing: abacus

The rate of decline in Asia’s travel industry should slow in the second half of this year as the global economy stabilises, but risks remain. Abacus International, an Asian air ticketing and reservations firm, forecast travel bookings from July to December would fall between 4.0 and 6.0 percent from a year earlier, compared with the 10 percent drop seen in the first half. “It’s true that there is evidence of green shoots sprouting and lining the path that the industry is travelling on right now, which is great news,” said Abacus President and Chief Executive Robert Bailey. “However, this road is still likely to be a bumpy one.” The risks include terrorist attacks like the hotel bombings in Jakarta last month and a further escalation of the swine flu virus. Despite the travel industry being hammered by the global economic slump, there were also bright spots, with China, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam registering travel growth in the first half, he said. More people were also booking for short-haul and domestic trips, he said. Corporate travel, however, will remain subdued and could recover only by mid-2010, Bailey said. RELAXNEWS

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Stuart Mcdonald

After a spate of widely publicised recent scandals, Thailand has a particularly bad rap for corruption. But is the situation there really worse than in neighbouring countries?

IT seems barely a week passes without some new ghastly story hitting the airwaves about corruption in Thailand. Be it beer mat-nabbing mums in Phuket, tourists being extorted at the airport or the old tried-and-tested gem scam story, it seems Thailand should be slapped with a "buyer beware" sticker.

Over the last year, and far more seriously, we've seen ongoing political uncertainties, street protests in Bangkok, border clashes with Cambodia and the never-ending shifting sands of visa regulations. Does Thailand really want tourists to come at all?

It's true, Thailand has problems with corruption - as do most of its neighbours. On the one hand, tourists are seen as walking money bags and on the other, an ample supply of corrupt (and underpaid) police and assorted dodgy con men and shysters are on the loose. The current economic situation has seen an increase in reports of theft and fraud - though I'd guess this isn't unique to Thailand.

What does seem to be unique to Thailand is the amount of press some of these cases get. We're all for exposing police corruption and scams - and the attention given to the recent extortion case at Bangkok's international airport is a great example of the foreign press helping to get a few backsides kicked.

But let's get a bit of perspective here. Thailand will receive in excess of 10 million foreign visitors in 2009, and the vast majority of these people will have no problems whatsoever. In many of the cases you read about - but not all - the people being taken advantage of have put themselves in a situation where they are going to be taken advantage of. We're not excusing the corruption, but we are saying that if you conduct yourself in a sensible manner, familiarise yourself with the laws and customs of the land, and don't forget to pack your brain, chances are you will have few, if any, problems in Thailand.

Take this example of a recent post on Travelfish:
"After visiting Ko Sukorn twice over a period of four years we decided to buy a lease on some land and build a school. We used our life savings. Then the police and the land office demanded 500,000 baht extortion money. We were teaching up to 100 students at the time (for free). We have been threatened with a two-year prison sentence and deportation for teaching without a work permit (unless we pay). I think all travellers should know just how corrupt Thailand can be. We have no problem with the people on the island and still keep in contact. If you go to Ko Sukorn please ask about Small Sea School and what happened to it. We have lost our life savings of four-million baht."

A Thai Muslim during Thai Queen Sirikit’s birthday celebrations in the troubled southern province of Pattani on August 12. AFP

We're getting only one (very limited) side of the story here, but one wonders if they'd done some basic research, they'd have found out that you need a work permit to teach in Thailand - even if you are not being paid. Did the school have a license? Was there a Thai director? Pure and simple, it's Thai law. While undoubtedly the police and land office were corrupt, if you aren't completely legal, you're setting yourself up as prey to the local predators and lowlife.

We lived in Bangkok for seven years and have been in Asia upwards of a dozen. In all that time we've been extorted once (in Indonesia) and it was our fault - we hadn't got an exit permit and in the end had to pay a bribe to get out of the country.

We've had friends who have been extorted. One was caught with a small amount of grass at a Bangkok bus station and marched to an ATM to be liberated of about 70,000 baht. Yes, the police who caught him acted corruptly, but he was breaking the law and so put himself in a vulnerable position.

I'm not saying all the cases that hit the press should be discounted as happening to naive foreigners. Undoubtedly there have been some tragic cases, with the murders of foreigners in Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi and Pai (all by police) coming to mind. But these are individual aberrations and do not point to a larger "problem" of gun happy corrupt cops running around shooting tourists willy-nilly.

Yes, we run a Web site for people heading to Thailand, so it's in our interests to talk this down. We're rather asking for a bit of perspective. Go to Thailand, get drunk, steal stuff, get caught, abuse the police and you will probably be arrested - as would probably happen in your home country. Thailand isn't a magical fairyland where you can behave however you want because the laws don't apply to you. The laws apply.


Thun Sophea ready to show no sympathy for Swiss devil Zidov

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Thun Sophea will face Contender Asia star Dominik “Akuma” Zidov on Thursday night at CTN.

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Robert Starkweather

Thun Sophea faces Contender Asia TV series star Dominik ‘Akuma’ Zidov of Switzerland, while ISKA World Middleweight Champion Vorn Viva headlines Thursday night fights at CTN

LOCAL great Thun Sophea will take on Muay Thai bad boy Dominik Zidov in the co-feature of a star-studded international fight card Thursday night at the CTN indoor studio.

Nicknamed "Akuma", or "Devil" in Japanese, Zidov rose to fame as a fighter on the reality television series The Contender Asia, where his colorful tattoos and raw attitude earned him instant popularity.

With wild hairstyles and pop-star girlfriends, the 28-year-old Swiss-Croat carries himself with cultivated rough-boy swagger. But it's not all bluff.

Zidov says he spent nearly two and a half years during his early 20s in a Zurich prison on counterfeiting and drug-related charges. Huge letters tattooed across each forearm bear witness to the Devil's madness - "Psycho" reads the left arm, "Maniac" the right.

"When I was young, I had only shit in my head," said Zidov by email. "I made trouble wherever I could make trouble."

Trying to put his past behind him, Zidov moved to Thailand in 2003, hoping to parlay his street-fighting youth into something more constructive. He hooked up with well-respected Danish fighter Ole "Iron Fist" Laursen at the Legacy Gym in Ubon. In those early years, hungry but relatively inexperienced, Zidov honed his fighting skills on the rural Issan circuit, earning a few thousand baht per fight.

Things went well until 2005, when Zidov broke his hand sparring. The injury forced him back to Switzerland. In Zurich, he inevitably started running with his old buddies, and before long he was back in jail.

Faced with the dreadful monotony of doing time once again, Zidov, now 25 kilograms overweight, knew the madness had to stop.

He started training with a single-minded passion, and by the time of his release five months later, he was back down to a fighting weight of 67 kilograms. He took a job in a chocolate factory with a "really crappy salary" and counted the days until he could afford to return to Thailand.

The Contender Asia calls
After a productive year back in the ring in 2007, Zidov got the break of his life.

One of the fighters on The Contender Asia had broken his arm, and producers wanted Laursen to replace the injured fighter. But Larsen was nursing a broken ankle and could not fight either, so he suggested his longtime friend and training partner Dominik Zidov instead.

Zidov placed sixth in The Contender Asia, getting eliminated by Australian powerhouse John Wayne Parr in episode 11. But more important than his rank, the show earned Zidov vast recognition as a fighter, and promoters quickly saw the value in his affable, roguish appeal.

After filming of the show finished last year, the WMC Lamai club in Koh Samui lured Zidov away from Legacy with promises of better fights and bigger paydays.

His next primetime challenge arrives Thursday when he faces Thun Sophea in Phnom Penh.
"I don't know to much about him," Zidov said of the Cambodian veteran. "Just that he is very strong."

A native of Svay Rieng, Thun Sophea started fighting a decade ago at the age of 16. Like many veterans, he has lost count long ago of wins and losses. The milestones that mark his 10-year career, however, are undeniable.

Now 26 years old, Thun Sopheap has beaten nearly every Cambodian fighter of note, including Outh Phouthang, Chey Kosal, Sen Bunthen, Meas Chantha and Vorn Viva.

He expects a good fight from Zidov (33-13, 28 KOs), pointing to Zidov's international experience as proof of the Swiss fighter's pedigree. "Akuma is strong," Thun Sophea said. "He has fought and won in both Thailand and Singapore."

At the same time, Thun Sophea is quick to note that Zidov is not the only one with experience abroad. "I've fought in France, Australia, Belgium, and I won, too," he said.

In terms of quality of opponent, the advantage leans toward Zidov, who has fought world-class heavy-hitters such as John Wayne Parr and Eli Madigan. But in terms of quantity, Thun Sophea takes ultimate precedence, counting more than 200 professional fights.

"He's strong," said Thun Sophea of the Swiss champion. "But I am strong, too."

On the cards
The card Thursday night is comprised of five fights, with three international and two local bouts.

In the headline fight of the night, ISKA World Middleweight Champion Vorn Viva will face 21-year-old Charlie Gillespie (24-5, 18 KOs) of England in a non-title bout at 73 kilograms.

In the second match, Thun Sophea faces Dominik Zidov at 69 kilograms.

In the first, Sen Bunthen, one of the hottest welterweights in boxing, takes on Ervant "The Russian Wolf" Atagyan (18-4, 7 KOs). Wolf was invited to fight in the Kings Cup of Thailand in 2008, a prestigious accolade for any fighter. In his last major outing in April, Atagyan lost a narrow split decision to top-notch Australian fighter Bruce "The Preacher" MacFie.

The two local fights on the undercard include a non-title bout between Um Dara and May Sopheap, the current welterweight champion, and a fight between winners of CTN's reality series Kun Khmer Champion, with season one winner Cheam Adam to face season two winner Sam Ounluong in the opening bout of the night.

Police Blotter: 19 Aug 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Lim Phalla

A construction worker was attacked with stones and severely wounded in the head by a gang for looking at their faces. The event happened on Sunday night in front of a jeans factory in Tuol Sangke commune in Phnom Penh's Russei Keo district. The victim, who was taken to Calmette Hospital, was known as May Kruoch, 24, from Prey Veng province.

A Cambodian-American man was arrested for colluding with two other comrades to kidnap his ex-fiancee, Sin Somuntha, who had broken off the engagement, by asking for US$50,000 in ransom from her older sister on August 6. Police identified the suspect as Alexander Brown, 29, of Teuk Thla commune in Phnom Penh's Russei Keo district. He tricked the victim into collecting US$2,000 he owed her at his house and detained her there.

After an investigation, police found that 89-year-old Heng Kiem was killed in her house in Kampot province's Kampong Trach district by her own 30-year-old grandson Phou Kob. The suspect said he had been angry with his grandma for accusing him of stealing 400,000 riels from her. He beat his grandma to death with a spade, tied the body up and took a pair of earrings from her ears before escaping on August 11. The body was found by her neighbours three days later, and the suspect was arrested by police on Saturday.

Kong Theary, a 24-year-old farmer from the Sa'ang district of Kandal province, drank poison to kill himself at a pagoda in Phnom Penh's Steung Meanchey commune on Monday to escape punishment after killing his 14-year-old neighbour, Khna Vuchkiev, who rejected his love. The victim was stabbed 42 times with a knife and died immediately on the scene on Sunday. Kong Theary is in a critical condition at a hospital in Phnom Penh and is expected to be detained and sent back to his home province.

A man was arrested on Sunday for allegedly attempting to murder another man. The suspect, Phuong Sovan, 25, hit Oeun Saroeun, male, 22, three times with a hammer on August 15 in the Sa'ang Phnom commune of Kandal province. The attack was an act of revenge because the victim had hit the suspect three times with a belt. The victim was seriously wounded and taken to hospital.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

Zepp swims for Pailin

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

FRECHEN, Germany - Cambodian National Volleyball (Disabled) coach Christian Zepp covered an astonishing 66 kilometres over the weekend during a sponsored swim at the swimming pool of his hometown of Frechen, Germany. The 32-year-old German managed to raise US$1,100 for his chosen charity, the Pailin Frechen Lions Volleyball team, who compete in the Cellcard National Volleyball League (Disabled). Zepp said by email that he was "kind of devastated" Monday, but getting better Tuesday, noting that he had swum the equivalent of two English channel crossings, between Calais in France and Dover in England.

CPL Round 15 concludes

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Today's double fix of Cambodian Premier League (CPL) games at Olympic Stadium may not afford much in the way of position changes, but should help clarify the way things will stand at the end of the season, just three rounds away. Post Tel club must record a win against National Defence Ministry, who are practically the only team that can take their place in the relegation zone. Their game kicks off at 2pm. In today's later game at 4pm, title chasers Preah Khan Reach will hope to keep pace with Phnom Penh Crown by winning against surprise package Spark FC. Anything but a loss for Spark will help leapfrog them over Build Bright United into the lucrative fifth place, and a strong finish to the end of the season could even grant them a place in the Super Four.

Crown spy on Thais

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The manager and coach of reigning CPL champions Phnom Penh Crown travelled to Thailand over the weekend to spy on next Wednesday's Singapore Cup opponents Bangkok Glass. Manager Makara Be and head coach Apisit Im Amphai were conspicuously absent from the bench Sunday, when Crown pummeled Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 3-0. According to Crown assistant Coach Sam An, the duo were instead watching Bangkok Glass, currently third in the Thai Premier League (TPL), run over Provincial Electrical Authority FC 3-1 in Bangkok. Both are expected back today in preparation for Crown's fixture against Build Bright United on Saturday. Meanwhile, Cameroon-born striker Jean Roger Lappe Lappe, who has been loaned twice already this season to TPL side Samuth Songkram, is back with the CPL leaders, and is likely to feature in the weekend match.

More care on Labour migration

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The vice president of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations, Teh Sing, called Tuesday for better management of labour migration during a training workshop organised with the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies and the International Labour Organisation. He said that working abroad was an attractive option but warned that labour migration was fraught with danger in the form of human trafficking and exploitation.

Microfinance sector to meet

Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Nguon Sovan

About 450 representatives of microfinance institutions, banks, micro-credit providers and government regulators are to take part in a two-day seminar titled "Cambodia Microfinance Amid the Global Financial Crisis" beginning today. Industry experts are scheduled to discuss topics including risk and nonperforming loan management, financial inclusion and consumer protection. Cambodian Microfinance Association figures show outstanding loans dropped 2.7 percent quarter on quarter to US$426.1 million in the second quarter, while nonperforming loans increased from 1.75 to 3.39 percent.

The Phnom Penh Post in KHMER language

The Post in Khmer 18 August 2009
(click to download)

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I'm MAM Sonando, Owner and President of Beehive Radio Voice of the People supporting Buddhism, hereby appeal to bonzes and all Khmer fellows living both locally and abroad to contribute to the construction project of Buddhist temple, dining hall and a school located in Wat Prum Seima Raingsey Chup Koki, Chup Koki village, Ampil commune, Banteay Ampil district, Udor Meanchey province, Dangrek Mountain Range, Khmer-Siam Border, in the upcoming December 2009.

I am of the opinion that it is important for five reasons:

1- To sustain, respect and promote Buddhism;

2- As a border to prevent neighboring countries wishing to invade the Khmer territory;

3- To develop the livelihood of the people living in that area;

4- As a gracious and utmost heritage for the Khmer children of the generations to come who strictly adhere to Buddhism and jointly construct a Buddhist temple in Wat Prum Seima Raingsey Chup Koki,

5- The names of all ceremony initiators will be inscribed on the Buddhist temple's concrete walls and kept in a pure golden record for Buddhism, whereby their memories will be subject to a peaceful and everlasting procession to the next life.

Beehive Radio hereby welcomes contributions from all Khmer people both local and abroad via:

1. Paypal: please visit website: please click on Donation and then click on Paypal.

2. For contribution, please send via: - Money Gram or - Western Union or various private companies, please refer to the name of Miss SUON Chanthy, accountant of Beehive Radio;

* For more information, please contact Miss SUON CHANTHY, SBK Radio's Accountant.
Email: / Web Site:
Tel: (855) 23 21 0401/ (855) 12 99 49 39.


Phnom Penh, August 17, 2009

President of BEEHIVE RADIO

Nº 44G, St. 360, Sangkat Beong Keng Kang III,Chamcarmorn, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel : (855-23) 210 401, Fax : (855-23) 210 439
E-Mail : - Web Site :

Westernfield Holdings Inc consulting a wood burning stove project in Cambodia

Release Date: 2009-08-18

Westernfield Holdings Inc is this project in Cambodia which involves the distribution of efficient wood burning stoves to poorer communities were cooking is currently done on open wood burning fires on stones.

The idea behind this project was created by a group in Cambodia want to cut down on the amount of carbon released into the air and to help save the forest. Meals are currently cooked in vast pans, on open fires, burning wood for fuel. This project pays for an efficient Stove to be manufactured locally. The stove is 80% more efficient in its use of wood. The design channels the energy from the burning of wood to a specific area, under the pan. It also disposes of the smoke safely, compared with the smoke just blowing whichever way the wind was taking it.

The forestry commission in Cambodia has reported that the forests in many areas are being greatly depleted for its wood to be used in cooking and for building materials. The more efficient stove would require 80% less wood and therefore require fewer trees to be taken from this valuable resource. With the trees still standing, they would take in CO2 gasses and through the process of photosynthesis replace it with Oxygen back into the atmosphere.

This project is currently underway. It costs $150USD to make one stove. This project is to be monitored by Westernfield Holdings Inc. WesternField Holdings plays a key role in reducing carbon emissions. They do this through their two main business lines: providing consultancy to project owners (credit development services) and investing in and managing our own projects (project development activities). Do to the small scale of this project carbon credits will not be issued.

This is a great way of both helping the local people and save the forest that has been under severe stress due to deforestation for farming, building materials and wood burning, says Trevor Hardway of Westernfield Holdings. According to Trevor Hardway, due to the small scale of this project, carbon credits will not be issued. Trevor Hardway is the lead manager for this project.


Contact Info

Lou Fang
20th floor,Shinjuku Park Tower S,3-7-1 Nishi-Shinjuku,Shinjuku-ku,Tokyo,Japan,163-1035 Phone: +81345209532

Cambodia approves ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement

August 19, 2009

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) - Cambodian National Assembly yesterday approved the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, paving the way for the Kingdom to implement trade facilitation and tariff liberalization among ASEAN member countries.

The agreement is aimed at achieving the establishment of the ASEAN market and the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

This agreement covers, among others, tariff liberalization, elimination of non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, trade facilitation, customs procedures, standards and conformance, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

"It will help reduce or omit import tax, favorable tax for good items from the partners and help facilitate private sector for their business, as well as speed up the flow of investment capital from the outside world," said Nin Saphan, chairwoman for the committee of public work, transport, posts and telecommunication, industry, mine, energy, commerce, urbanization, land management and construction.

"Cambodia has prepared itself to join with other countries in regional integration like the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, and for Cambodia, the agreement will come into effect in 2018. So we still have time to take actions for trade deal," said Kong Vibol, secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

"Our country still need the state revenue from the import tax for supporting the state expenditure and development infrastructures and the country is the youngest in ASEAN. Therefore, other members allow us to fully implement the agreement in 2018," he said.

"The agreement will also help narrowing the development gap between the ASEAN's old and new members," he added.

It is said that after 2018, Cambodia is still allowed to charge 5 percent of customs duties on 61 farm products imported from other ASEAN countries.

Rob Hamill faces bother's killer

EXECUTIONER: Chief Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch.

By JEFF NEEMS - Waikato Times

Hamilton man Rob Hamill faced his brother's alleged killer in a Cambodian court yesterday, but the former torture camp commandant claims he can not remember him.

Speaking to the Times from Phnom Penh shortly after testifying at the UN-backed trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch and the head of the notorious S21 prison camp under Pol Pot's Khymer Rouge regime, Mr Hamill was not surprised by Duch's claim he did not recall Mr Hamill's older brother Kerry.

Kerry Hamill is believed to have been one of a handful of Westerners killed in the camp between 1975 and 1979. Kerry Hamill's yacht strayed into Cambodian waters in 1978, and while exact details of his death remain unknown, he is believed to have been tortured and executed while in S21.

Duch has testified he carried out orders from the regime's late leader Pol Pot, and Mr Hamill said Duch continued with that defence when he gave the equivalent of a victim impact statement in Phnom Penh's Extraordinary Chambers of Courts of Cambodia.

"His out is that he was just taking orders. It was either that, or be killed himself."

An emotionally drained Mr Hamill said there was sense of relief at having made his statement, aimed at court judges and detailing the huge impact of his brother's death on the Hamill family. He was able to make extensive eye contact with Duch, who sat just metres from him.

"It was very difficult, but he was certainly very attentive," Mr Hamill said. "I didn't look at him that much when I was making my statement - I was really looking up at the judges."

Reading his statement from notes, Mr Hamill said he was able to look directly at Duch when he made "a couple of pointed comments", while Mr Hamill's wife Rachel noticed Duch nervously fidgeting during particularly emotional parts of her husband's testimony.

"I had some emotional moments in there," Mr Hamill said of his appearance, which lasted just under an hour. "I was wiping away a few tears as I was telling the story."

"Whenever I said things that were emotionally charged about him (Duch), he was shuffling, pretty nervy..."

Mr Hamill believed Duch to be a "very sharp cookie, playing the court really well". Mr Hamill was able to directly question Duch, and asked him how long his brother was interned for.

"But the answer I got was that he (Duch) didn't know...which was a bit disappointing. He just didn't remember."

"The longer Kerry was in there, the worse it would've been," Mr Hamill said. "I know he was in there for at least two months."

Mr Hamill said Duch recalled Kerry Hamill's British crewmate John Dewhurst, "and he just said they both were killed at the same time".

"He said specifically he remembered the British man, but not my brother. It is disappointing, and I find it hard to believe...they were brought in at the same time, two Westerners."

Mr Hamill said although somewhat surreal, events at the trial had transpired much as he had expected. While he had not neccessarily gained any more information about his brother's death, Mr Hamill said he felt it was significant to represent the estimated 17,000 people killed in the camp, and their families.

Feedback from lawyers participating in the trial was that Mr Hamill's statement and questioning had made a strong impact on the judges.

"It was pretty powerful, being in there, and being part of that. I really felt I got the message across that I wanted to."

The trip to Cambodia for the trial will be an integral part of a documentary on Mr Hamill's search for justice for his brother, entitled Brother No 1.

Two English boys test positive to A/H1N1 flu in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed two more cases of A/H1N1 virus after two English boys have tested positive to the flu in the Kingdom.

"We have just tested positive for the flu on two English boys who are in 12 and 13-year-old and now the two brothers were quarantined and are being treated at Calmet Hospital," said Sok Touch, director of communicable diseases control of Health Ministry.

"They are not in serious condition, and hope to recover soon," he added.

Their parents also are being observed for the flu, he said. He urged all people to protect themselves from infection of the disease.

"With the two boys, Cambodia now has 26 cases of confirmed A/H1N1 flu," Sok Touch said. Cambodia has no one die of the virus.

Editor: Anne Tang

Cambodian Refugee Faces Deportation from Washington

Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, WA (N3) - He got in trouble with the law. And now a 33-year old Federal Way (Washington) man faces deportation to Cambodia - even though he left that country as a small child. Family and friends call it a miscarriage of justice. It's one of thousands of similar cases involving children of Cambodian refugees in the United States. According to advocates, Chhan (Chan) is one of thousands of children of Cambodian refugees in the United States who have either been deported or face deportation because of crimes they committed here. KPLU's Austin Jenkins reports.

Full story
Chhoeuth Chhan is being held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma - and could be deported any day now. Chhan was just two years old when his parents fled the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian killing fields and came to America. Chhan was a legal permanent resident, but never applied to become a full-fledged U-S citizen. Then in 2000, living in Western Washington, he spent a year in jail for second degree assault and unlawful imprisonment, stemming from a domestic violence incident. That was enough for Chan to lose his green card and get a deportation order back to his birth country. After years of appeals and delays, Chan has now received the final paperwork he needs for the US government to "remove" him to Cambodia. That's why he was recently locked back up. For his mother Ya Chan it's a nightmare.

Ya Chhan, Chhoeuth's Mother: "If they send my son back to Cambodia I lost my American dream."

Chhan says her son has no connection to Cambodia since he grew up in the U.S. A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement says U-S immigration law is clear: if you're a lawful permanent resident and you commit an aggravated felony, you lose your right to live in this country. I'm Austin Jenkins in Olympia.

Cambodia: Pedal to the mettle

The main temple at Wat Slaket. Photo / Kerri Jackson

The New Zealand Herald

Wednesday Aug 19, 2009
By Kerri Jackson

Silver has crossed my palm. Or, more specifically, my wrist. And being fatally attracted to shiny things as I am, silver - in a metaphorical, American dollar sense - is soon crossing the palm of the Cambodian girl now eyeing me expectantly.

I'm in a small silversmith village about two hours' drive north of Phnom Penh, on the potholed, bustling NH5 highway to Battambang in Cambodia's north west.

The city is another bone-rattling four hours away by bus, so this is certainly not the fastest way to travel between the country's two largest cities, but it is a fantastic way to see the rural back blocks of this country. From the emerald-green rice paddies to the clusters of slow-moving oxen, this is a very different Cambodia from the hustle and edginess of Phnom Penh. The only similarity is the motor scooters which beep and toot their way along the highway - although here they're laden with livestock rather than school children.

Then there are the small villages, like this one where our bus stops to load up with silver. Each village between Phnom Penh and Battambang seems to specialise in a craft or industry, whether it's this exquisite silversmithing, pottery, stone carving, or silk farming and weaving.

Each is a small hive for tourists, but they are still a better place to buy your treasures than the heaving markets of Phnom Penh if you want "buy-from-the-manufacturer" bargains.

So it is that our bus now resembles a blinged-out Priscilla wagon, at least on the inside, as it wends its way into Battambang.

This city of some 140,000 people is an elegantly wasted place - comprising just five named streets and a beautiful collection of ramshackle French colonial buildings - located along the meandering riverbanks of Stung Sangker.

Today Battambang city works as a hub, servicing the surrounding agricultural region, home to what it claims is the country's best rice, and a fledgling tourist industry. Visitors come here for the French architecture but stay for the easy pace, the friendly locals and the beautiful scenery.

The vast market seems to take up the entire centre of town. It's a sometimes sobering, olfactory-challenging introduction to Third World food storage and preparation but mostly it's a thriving community centre. With vendors selling everything from fish, meat and vegetables to ready-made snacks, clothing and bicycles, this is the beating heart of this small city.

Once you've explored the town centre there's plenty to see in the surrounding areas. And one of the best ways to see it all is by bicycle.

Cambodia is as flat a country as you're every likely to find, making it perfect for pedal-powered sightseeing. However, temperatures can be scorching, so a word of advice: start your trip early in the day to avoid pedalling through the searing heat of the midday sun. We learnt that the hard way.
The effort of battling through chaotic early-morning scooter traffic is soon rewarded with a calm riverside ride through the city's outskirts towards Wat Slaket, where you can wander among the picturesque temple buildings and monks' living quarters. The monks are friendly and happy to chat to visitors.

"Thank you for your smile. I give you my smile too. It is important to give your smile to people," says one, his smile beaming from a window.

Another 12-year-old boy explains in Khmer to our guide that he asked his mother to let him live at the monaster, y already recognising it as offering a better type life in this very poor country.

For us though, it's time to saddle up again for the big push on through villages and past rice paddies for another 11km to the spectacular Wat Ek Phnom.

Along the way, the roads are lined with stalls, drying rice paper and other bicycles laden down with produce and merchandise. Children rush out of houses giggling, waving and keen to practise their language skills with "hellos!" or "bonjours!"
Wat Ek Phnom, a partly ruined 11th-century temple that was once Hindu but now Buddhist, is a calm, contemplative place. On one side is a lotus-filled water reservoir; on the other, a giant Buddha statue stands majestically amongst the cattle.

Refreshed with a fresh coconut drink, it's time to get our slightly saddle-sore hides back on those bikes for the ride back to Battambang.

As the temperature bolts merrily towards 40C, all sensible Cambodians have retired to the shade for a siesta while we desperately plug our pedals homeward dreaming of hotel swimming pools or cold showers.

Instead, there's the quick, cooling violence of a torrential thunderstorm as we're off the bikes and on the bus for the ride to Prasat Banan, an imposing five-towered temple atop a hill, 30km south of Battambang. More pressingly, it's atop some 358 steps. They are, thankfully, largely under the shade, but still a big ask of bicycle-weary legs. But by the time you reach the top, and let the dots clear from your eyes, the panoramic views across the patchworked countryside more than make up for it. The temple is another moody 11th-century, falling-down stone structure locals say was a model for the grander, more famous temples at Angkor.

There's one more surprise on the road back to Battambang - the Chan Thay Chhoeng winery. Yes, a winery.

Here, one Cambodian woman has taught herself winemaking from English-language books, while teaching herself English from a dictionary. The wine, from a sister in France, produces wine, that is, to be fair, a little rough around the edges but the commitment and story behind it, make it seem a little sweeter.

It's a good spot to wrap up a tour of this area as it seems to encapsulate the mix of cultures and history that is Battambang's biggest asset.

Kerri Jackson travelled to Cambodia with Cathay Pacific and Adventure World

One More Week Delay for Boeng Kak Lake Residents – otherwise Their Houses Will Be Removed – Tuesday, 18.8.2009

Posted on 19 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“Phnom Penh: Citizens living temporarily in Village II and Village IV at the Boeng Kak Lake region in Srah Chok, Daun Penh, were informed by officials of the Phnom Penh municipality of a delay of one more week for them to remove their houses, after there had been a request for a suspension of the announced evictions, after new negotiations on 17 August 2009 between their representatives and officials of the Phnom Penh municipality.

“The negotiations were held after the Phnom Penh municipality had issued the notification #180, dated 10 August 2009, requiring more than 50 families that have not agreed with any compensation offered, when they move out to make space for the development of the Boeng Kak region, and they have not yet removed their houses.

“The notification informed Boeng Kak residents in Village 2 and Village 4 in Srah Chok, Daun Penh, that the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Phnom Penh Municipality will develop the Boeng Kak region into a modern commercial center, with housing, as a beautiful and hygienic place, providing services and offering entertainment.

“Therefore, so that the development of the Boeng Kak region can be carried out smoothly, the residents should accept one of the following compensation options of the Royal Government:

- Accept US$8,000 compensation, and Riel 2 million [approx. US$500] for the expenses of removal of the house.

- Accept a flat at Damnak Trayueng village, Dangkao, and Riel 2 million for the expenses of removal of the house.

- Accept development in place, but agree to remove the house and leave, to live in a new place temporarily, which is set up by the Phnom Penh Municipality

“The notification of the Phnom Penh Municipality leaves them seven days, starting from the date it was signed.

“After receiving the notification, residents of more than 50 remaining families, who have not accepted any compensation package, came to negotiate at the Phnom Penh Municipality to delay the eviction, where five representatives of the residents and officials of the Phnom Penh Municipality met to negotiate on 17 August 2009.

“During the negotiations, officials of the Phnom Penh Municipality informed the residents that in response to the suggestions of more than 50 remaining families who had not accepted any compensaton package of the Royal Government of Cambodia, but who then might agree to accept the third choice – development in place – the Phnom Penh Municipality decided to delay the eviction for one more week for them, to move to a new place temporarily, set up by the Phnom Penh Municipality with an area of 77 plots of land in Trapeang Krasaing village, Dangkao.

“The Phnom Penh Municipality will take the residents to see the place where they would live temporarily, and will help to transport their belongings free of charge.

“If somebody does not move within this one week of delaye, the Phnom Penh Municipality will order the Daun Penh district office to take action to remove the houses, and it will not take responsibility for any damages on materials and property of the citizens.

“An official of Daun Penh district office said that there were up to 1,300 families in Village II and Village IV.

“More than 1,200 families had already accepted compensation packages offered, where most had agreed to take US$8,000 as compensation and Riel 2 million as removal expenses.

“There were more than 120 families remaining, but recently, 70 families had accepted compensation, and there are now only more than 50 families remaining.

“That official added that the remaining 50 families had not accepted any compensation deals, because there were people who had incited them, making them to hesitate. ‘Thus, these residents should now stop believing any incitements.’

“The residents should hurry to accept compensation package offered, and remove their houses to facilitate the Royal Government and the Phnom Penh Municipality to develop the Boeng Kak region, in order to avoid flooding and to prtect all the families, especially the children, from chronic diseases coming from the bad odor of that terrible environment.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4975, 18.8.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Culture of Compromise Seen Hurting Courts

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
18 August 2009

Legal action, compromise and asking for pardon to end disputes have become an integral part of Cambodian politics, effectively and commonly used in past several years.

Since 2005, the nation’s courts have seen 17 cases that monitors label political in nature, stemming from border issues, corruption, defamation, disinformation and incitement. The cases have ranged from local politicians and rights activists to the prime minister and senior-level opposition leaders.

The new trend has met with mixed reaction. There are those who say such cases are an improvement over the use of weapons to solve disputes. But there are others who would prefer the courts are not involved in politics, or legal issues used as a pretext to intimidate critics of the government.

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, an opposition party with three seats in the National Assembly, was once imprisoned briefly as the head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights; he was charged with defamation of the government for hanging up a banner for 2005’s Human Rights Day.

“My release at the time was the result of political compromise, with intervention from Cambodians inside and outside the country, as well as international intervention,” Kem Sokha told VOA Khmer by phone last week. “I see this as not a practice that we want. We want to use a legal system where everybody is under the law, as a democratic principle with no one above it.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, who was once involved in a court case similar to Kem Sokha’s, said the court’s lack of independence and its service to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party force compromises the other side usually doesn’t want.

“The culture of begging for pardon, and after the pardoning one turning to support or follow a powerful individual is not a good practice,” he said. “But it is understandable, based on dependency and injustice in our legal system.”

The practice has filtered all the way to Cambodia’s remote areas. In Ratanakkiri province, Pen Bona, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, was removed from his position, via pressure from the court.

“The culture of compromise and begging for pardon is not right,” he said from Phnom Penh, where he now works in the group’s home office. “It is unlawful, and we absolutely don’t want this. Those who are wrong must be punished. However, we can only do that in a system where there is real justice.”

The prevailing system has also affected the highest reaches of politics, when, for example, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua was fined for defamation of Prime Minister Hun Sen last month.

Mu Sochua, who is also the party’s deputy secretary-general, was fined more than $4,000 by Phnom Penh Municipal Court, in court fines and in compensation to Hun Sen. She has vowed to appeal but does not rule out the option of a compromise.

“Compromising is an option if it gives dignity to both sides,” she said. “But if the compromise is to make one party, especially the victim, lose its dignity, as in writing a letter to apologize, this is not a compromise. Without a compromise that gives honor to both sides, the court is a better option.”

The case draws lots of condemnation both nationally and internationally expressing concern that the country might plunge into dictatorship.

Hun Sen, meanwhile, has lashed out of critics of the case, which he brought against Mu Sochua after she sued him for defamation, for allegedly degrading remarks made in a speech in April.

“Those of you who would like to issue a statement, both Khmer and foreigners, I would call you stupid, dumb and ignorant of the law,” Hun Sen said in a speech last week, lambasting critics. “You only recognize rights of the opposition not lawful rights of those in power.”

There are other cases. Twenty-two military officials are suing another SRP lawmaker. One opposition journalist has been jailed for defamation while another editor promised to shutter his paper to avoid the same fate.

“In a case where someone says sorry and admits his mistake, it is enough,” Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, told VOA Khmer. “Firstly, the government’s stance is to show what is right and wrong. Secondly, those who pass judgment are not the executive or legislative bodies. It is the judiciary body.”

Phay Siphan denied government influence over the courts, despite critics who note that the opposition rarely wins cases that appear political to begin with.

“I have never received [government] pressure in more than 10 years on the job,” Mong Monychakriya, a Supreme Court judge, said. “I solve a case based on my own merit, as the law permits.”

Some legal professionals, meanwhile, say politicians should leave the judicial system alone, to ensure its independence.

“We must follow the law and its procedure, once lawmakers give power to the court and the court is independent of political influence,” said Hong Kimsuon, an attorney for the Cambodian Defenders Project. “This is a decision that would benefit the whole population. If it’s a penal case, and [both sides] compromise and withdraw based on compromise and fear of influence, this is not a good practice.”

US Senator Envisions More Investment in Cambodia

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia gestures during a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009. Webb was in Cambodia for one day official visit as part of his two-week-long tour of five nations in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
18 August 2009

On a tour through Southeast Asia where he has already secured the release of an American in custody in Burma, US Senator Jim Webb said in Phnom Penh Tuesday he wanted to see “more American investment in Cambodia.”

Webb, who met with Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh and opposition leaders and was expected to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, is on a five-nation swing through the region.

Cambodia was only recently taken off a US trade blacklist of Marxist-Leninist countries, paving the way for more private investment.

Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, is chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee.

The Foreign Relations subcommittee oversees regional organizations such as Asean and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Webb Assures Cambodia Of "very Close Look" At The Trade Act

Tuesday August 18, 2009

(RTTNews) - U.S. Senator Jim Webb, who is on a two-week tour of five South-East Asian nations, made a lightning visit to Cambodia Tuesday to 'invigorate' the United States' relationship with that country.

Talking to reporters at the capital, Phnom Penh, Webb said he assured during talks with the minister of commerce that Washington will take a "very close look" at the Trade Act of 2009, a measure introduced to provide duty-free access to the U.S. market for garments made in 14 least-developed countries. He stressed the need for labor standards in beneficiary countries meeting international standards.

He said he discussed with the leaders of two of the opposition groups about the ongoing crackdown by the Cambodian government against its opponents. The U.S. wants to do "what we can to encourage political diversity in Cambodia," he added.

He is to meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen later in the day.

Chairman of the U.S. Senate's Sub-Committee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Webb visited Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand with the mission of the U.S. government's re-engagement with Southeast Asia at all levels.

He will wind up the tour with a visit to Vietnam later Tuesday.

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Duch violently accused by relatives of foreigners tortured at S-21

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 17/08/2009: Martine Lefeuvre, 57-year-old civil party and wife of Ouk Ket, who was executed at S-21, on Day 59 of the trial of Kaing Guek Eav at the ECCC
©John Vink/ Magnum


By Stéphanie Gée

Monday August 17th, the relatives of victims who disappeared at S-21, the death anteroom ran by Duch, started testifying. Foreigners were the first civil parties to appear: at the stand, a French woman and her daughter, then a New Zealander, cried out their suffering and disgust towards the accused. They revealed the extent of the destruction of their families, forever in mourning. Faced with their anger, or even hatred, the accused, drowned under the voice of the victims, proved highly sober in his comments and took a self-flagellation stance.

Searching for a disappeared husband
Mrs Martine Lefeuvre lost her husband at S-21, a Cambodian engineer-diplomat, with whom she had two children. The French woman, who lives at Le Mans, married in 1971 and followed her husband Ouk Ket to Senegal, where he had been appointed third secretary. In April 1977, the latter received a notice from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, asking him to return to Phnom Penh. He went there, without his family, convinced he would participate to the rebuilding of his country. Very soon, Mrs Lefeuvre was without news from him. She then started seeking any information about him, knocking on every door, first the Chinese Embassy, as her husband previously stayed in Beijing, but also Amnesty International, the International Red Cross. She met with Cambodian delegations with the obsession to find her husband’s trace. To no avail.

On December 25th 1979, she obtained the authorisation, through the Association of Khmer Women, to go to a refugee camp in Thailand where, discovering the horrific and distressing situation of Cambodians there, she rolled up her sleeves and helped them. There, she met a Cambodian friend who broke the news of her husband’s death at S-21, as he had found his name in the list of prisoners who were executed. During her flight back to France, she decided to become a nurse – and graduated the following year – and wondered how she would explain her children aged 4 and 7 that they would never see again the father they had called for every day. In 1991, she renewed with her in-laws in Cambodia and went to S-21 with her two children. As soon as they arrived, they were “overwhelmed by horror” and started scrutinising all the photographs lined up the ones next to the others, searching for the beloved face. Sadness and anger mingled ad nauseam. Ouk Ket’s picture did not hang on the walls and they found it in the museum’s archives. Mrs Lefeuvre spoke clearly and took her time to say the carefully chosen words of a testimony she had prepared for. Her voice was filled with determination as she told her story.

“Ket must have been through harsh times”
Regarding Duch and Mam Nay, the people in charge of S-21 whose names she discovered in the S-21 registrars, she said: “Just looking at their face, I thought Ket must have been through harsh times.” From then on, she decided that such atrocities must not remain unpunished. The woman who fought not to be overwhelmed by emotion gave a detailed portrait of her husband and gave him his humanity back, so that he was more than just a name. Then, she imagined aloud what his detention at S-21 for six long months could have been like.

Duch “could have stemmed the extermination process”
“Ket’s suffering always was and is our suffering. Far from fading with time, I can tell you it has become increasingly stronger. It is like a huge screen too close to the face. To this day, we still have no body, no body returned. We have no grave for Ket. I have no papers from the Cambodian authorities and the result for me is a total human failure. So, I came before this court to demand justice, justice for this barbaric crime, so that the suffering of Ket and all the other Cambodians be finally taken into consideration […] as well as the suffering of survivors. I have also come before you to restore Ket’s dignity, trampled at S-21, and that of our Cambodian and French family. I have also come to refresh the memory of an amnesiac. The instigator of these killings is an intellectual who could have stemmed the extermination process. […] He ordered the torture and killing of 17,000 people […] and in my view, he should have killed himself because even if he was scared of dying, it was not a reason to keep torturing and killing. […] Had that mathematics teacher forgotten to think, to gorge himself on blood, screams of those tortured, and corpses, for nine years? If that’s not called getting a kick doing a dirty job, please tell me what it looks like! […] The death of others was his daily nourishment.”

Duch, road-mender at S-21 and Choeung Ek
Her speech was testament to her great inner strength and was uncompromising. “You must not be more interested in this person [Duch] than in the victims. Because, currently, torturers continue to live next to the victims and that is very damaging for the latter. I would like the torturers to be forbidden from making any profit in relation to the atrocities and facts perpetrated from 1975 to 1979. That confessions, photographs or books written by those who participated to these massacres be handed over to Cambodian and international bodies. I could imagine very well case file no. 1 [Duch] working as a road-mender at Choeung Ek and S-21 so that they are dignified places. I saw papers and cans there. I don’t find it clean. I also expect from the tribunal an educational impact on the young generation so they really understand that it was Khmer who killed Khmer. There is no room for historical denial. […] Ket’s descendants […] need to be reconciled with the Khmer part of its family history and it is not possible to do it at S-21 or Choeung Ek.” Mrs Lefeuvre suggested the creation of a multimedia library in Khmer and French named after Ouk Ket at the place where he lived the first 23 years of his life. “It is by taking a chance on education and culture that it will be possible to soothe our grief and restore the dignity of Ket and other Cambodians who were the victims of this bloody regime.”

No forgiveness for the time being
The daily suffering has already caused her two ulcers and could be felt under the strength she was keen to retain during her testimony. Would she be able to forgive? Not for the time being. “Forgiveness is a process. First, you have to find those responsible. Then, there is a judgment and then reparation. We have not received reparation, we are puppets. What was done to Ket, we feel it in our bodies and minds. […] Maybe in 30 years? Maybe we will need as much time to forgive as we took to uncover the truth?” “They have wrecked our lives,” the civil party articulated with difficulty. “And that is impossible to forgive.”

Testimonies for history, according to Duch
Asked to make observations, Duch spoke briefly. He recognised this testimony as “a historic truth that will remain forever.” “A flower can bloom and fade but the truth can never change. The suffering of the Cambodian people under the Khmer Rouge include the suffering endured by your relatives. That is something that cannot be forgotten.” The accused then recalled he would not seek to shy away from his responsibilities and that the Cambodian nation could blame, curse or punish him. He would do as they wished. And again, he asked for forgiveness.

A daughter forever broken
Mrs Lefeuvre’s daughter succeeded her mother at the stand. 34-year-old Ouk Neary knew her father little, and yet, she bore the burden of his disappearance in horrible circumstances no less. The elegant young woman started with a homage to her father, before family pictures were shown. Her testimony grew darker when she evoked the “shock of her life:” the visit of Tuol Sleng museum in 1991. She was then 16. The detention rooms, the torture instruments, the horror pictures traumatised her. She described everything with an intact memory. The images have haunted her since. That day, everything was turned upside down in her life. “If I describe S-21 so much, it is because the poison seed was planted in me on that day. Since that day, I have never stopped trying to find out what had happened.” She even chose to study linguistics with the sole aim to be able to carry out research on her father. She chose as her dissertation topic the microfilm printing of S-21 documents by Yale University, but was dissuaded from pursuing her work by anonymous threats. In the middle of a sentence, she was interrupted by the president who awkwardly decreed it was time for lunch break.

A descent to hell
All the tortures performed on S-21 detainees she discovered during her research, including the autopsies for anatomy experiments, increasingly stirred disgust in her, Ouk Neary continued in the early afternoon. “I experienced an invisible handicap, a mental agony, a descent to hell, when I discovered all that.” She mentioned the suicidal impulses she suffered from and referred to the Choeung Ek killing field, where she returned in February, as “the worst place I have been to in the world, because it still stains my feet with the supreme injustice that reigns there.” While she was describing the place, her voice choked. “Choeung Ek eroded my self-confidence.”

17,000 reasons to give the maximum sentence
She could no longer choke back her tears, but did not pause. “I spent my life trying to get close to the truth, the truth which the accused thinks he holds and which I didn’t. […] I wanted to know what my story was, what the truth was. This search, I did it on my own and I owe it only to myself. […] Since the beginning, the witnesses have been asked if they know the accused. I want to highlight that it is the accused who does not know me, but I have learned to know him, because I have observed him for some months. However, I know enough to tell the accused I am not interested in him. Whether I have my father’s confessions or not, I give them back to him and I hope he drowns with them. As a Cambodian woman, I am not fooled by his obsequiousness, which does not hide the cynical and blood-thirsty brute I know he is. As a French woman, the accused gives himself responsibilities without ever getting his hands dirty, by evoking his principled agreement, as he says. He forgets to say that back then, he did not have a job as an objective, but a dirty job that was carefully thought by others. As far as I am concerned, I think he is the shame of human race. There were not 17,000 victims because of the accused, but 17,000 reasons for the maximum sentence.”

Testifying to live again
Ouk Neary cited an extract from the preface to Vann Nath’s book, A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge S-21 Prison, written by film-maker Rithy Panh: “The older you grow, the more the history of the genocide comes back insidiously like a poison distilled in our body every day, little by little. The only way to live again is to testify.” Since February, she has started her grieving process, she said, adding she understood “the need for verbalisation in Cambodia today.”

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 17/08/2009: Ouk Neary, daughter of Martine Lefeuvre and Ouk Ket
©Stéphanie Gée

Duch maintained the stance he seemed to have adopted, maintaining reserve. “Her [Ouk Neary’s] testimony has a historic importance for the future generations, so as not to forget this tragedy and prevent such crimes from happening again.”

A brother smashed, a New Zealand family destroyed
New Zealander Robert Hamill, 45 years old, lost a brother, Kerry, at S-21. The yatch which the latter had boarded with friends found itself in Cambodian waters in 1978, where it came under fire by a Cambodian ship. The occupants of the boat were arrested and brought to the detention centre ran by Duch. “He unquestionably suffered beyond all imagination.” Robert Hamill came with a photograph of his brother, a smiling young man, whom he described as a pillar of the family who retained his sense of humour until the end. He cited examples: in his confession found at S-21, Kerry, was forced to admit he was a CIA agent but wrote that Colonel Sanders, the founder of the fast-food chain KFC, was one of his superior officers, gave his family’s phone number as the CIA’s operative number, etc. He even managed to include a cryptic reference to their mother’s name, whom he presented as his instructor. “It was as if, whatever the final outcome, he would have the last say and he has,” the devastated brother commented.

Robert Hamill evoked the importance of the family, whose life was marked by the joys and misfortunes of each of its members. Kerry’s suffering became that of the others to the point this formerly harmonious and happy family of four children disintegrated. He was overwhelmed, crushed, by emotion and his lawyer requested a saving break.

When Duch killed a brother, he killed another one
When his brother disappeared, Robert Hamill was only 14. It was only two years later that his family learned about Kerry’s tragic end in a newspaper article. Nobody warned them. They were devastated. Not death by drowning or fatal accident, but “death by torture,” the civil party hammered with rage. The effect on the family was violent and manifold. First, several months later, another brother, John, took his life by throwing himself off a cliff out of despair, and the father was unable to attend his funeral as he was unconscious from taking too many drugs. The parents did not know how to deal with their grief and masked their affliction in the cloak of medication… Tears burst out at every sentence. “Duch, when you killed my brother Kerry, you killed my brother John as well. The effect these two devastating losses had on our family simply cannot be measured.” Robert never saw his mother cry, but she became consumed, weakened by illness, then depression, and she stopped engaging with life. However, she did not prevent Robert from joining a rowing race across the Atlantic, in spite of all the risks entailed by the adventure. She died in 2003 before seeing anyone held responsible for the death of her son, he lamented. As for his father, he “lost the ability to function effectively.”

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 17/08/2009: Robert Hamill lost his brother Kerry, torture victim at S-21
©Stéphanie Gée

The New Zealander spoke with generosity about all his family, relative after relative, and all those who mattered in Kerry’s life, like his brother’s fiancée, who never married, or the sister of Briton John Dewhirst, Kerry’s travel companion, who also ended up at S-21. He wanted to show the extent of the damages caused by the disappearance of his brother. Robert Hamill wore his heart on his sleeve and did not hold anything back. “Time is a very very slow healer,” he said.

The accused should bear the burden
The civil party then spoke directly to the accused, calling him by his name, “Duch,” a name the French women who talked before the New Zealander could not or did not want to say. Rage then arose in Robert Hamill. “Duch, at times I’ve wanted to smash you, to use your words, in the same way that you smashed so many others. At times, I’ve imagined you shackled, starved, whooped and clubbed viciously, VICIOUSLY. I have imagined your scrotum electrified, being forced to eat your own faeces, being nearly drowned and having your throat cut. I have wanted that to be your experience, your reality. I have wanted you to suffer the way you made [my brother] Kerry and so many others. However, while part of me has a desire to feel that way, I am trying to let go and this process is part of that. Thank you for that. Today, in this courtroom, I am giving you all that crushing weight of emotion: the anger, the grief and the sorrow. I am placing this emotional burden on your head. For it was you who created this burden, which no one deserves. It was you who should bear the burden, you to suffer, not the families of the people you killed. From this day forward, I feel nothing towards you. To me, what you did removed you from the ranks of being human. If anything at all has to come from this trial and from my statement on behalf of those I love, let it be that the world takes notice of the evil that can happen when people do nothing and let it be that the world decides that doing nothing is not an option.”

Duch’s acknowledgment: a “small but significant contribution”
The civil party again talked to the accused, this time on a more appeased tone: “I am angry beyond words with you and what you did, but I acknowledge and respect your guilty plea. Your acknowledgment is a small but significant contribution to redressing the harm that you caused. Those that have not pleaded guilty and do not accept the harm, they of course are doubly worth of our hating and ridicule.”

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 17/08/2009: Photograph of Kerry Hamill, shown on the ECCC screens
©Stéphanie Gée

“I wonder. Duch, could you think of anything else concretely as to what you can do to help the victims, including my family?” “I am not able to assist anybody at this stage,” the accused answered him. “The best I can do, I already did it in Vorn Vet’s case. I bowed before him and he called me a killer, while he was being taken away. […]”

Duch promises he will not hide from the wrath of his fellow citizens
The accused was invited to make his observations. “Two people died at S-21 and two families suffered, one in France, the other in New Zealand. The suffering of the Cambodian people is also immense. […] As the director of S-21, I bear this responsibility and I would like to give the chance to the victims and survivors to point their finger at me. I would not be offended. That is your right and I will accept it with the respect owed to you. As S-21 director, I have already told the Chamber repeatedly that even if I were stoned to death, I will not say anything and I have no intention to kill myself. […] I am filled with remorse and I speak here from the bottom of my heart.” Duch remained impassive all throughout this day of trial. And discreet.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 17/08/2009: An important Cham community visited the court on Day 59 of Duch’s trial at the ECCC
©John Vink/ Magnum


Debate on civil party applications postponed
Out of the 20 civil parties scheduled to appear, the defence recapitulated, two of them have renounced to be heard while maintaining their application as civil parties. The defence expressed reservations on the validity of some of these applications and noted the lack of evidence proving kinship between the victim represented and the civil party for 23 out of the 93 existing civil parties. The Chamber announced it would not rule on the admissibility of the application of some civil parties for the time being.

UN and ILO welcome re-investigation of 2004 murder of union leader

Asia-Pacific News
Aug 18, 2009

Phnom Penh - The UN human rights office and International Labour Organization on Tuesday welcomed a decision by Cambodia's Appeal Court to re-investigate the murder of a prominent trade union leader.

Chea Vichea, who headed the FTU garment workers' union, which is affiliated to an opposition political party, was shot dead in Phnom Penh in broad daylight in January 2004. The two men subsequently convicted of the crime are widely believed to have been framed.

'It now seems beyond doubt that there is insufficient evidence to maintain the charges against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun,' the UN office and the ILO said in a joint statement released August 18, a day after the Appeal Court said it would re-investigate the case.

Chea Vichea was one of three FTU officials shot dead since 2004.

The statement noted that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had confessed under duress to the killing, and said the initial trial court ignored witness testimony showing they were innocent.

'The charges against the men should now be dropped, allowing the police to resume the search for those really responsible for shooting Chea Vichea in January 2004,' the organisations said, adding that the case raised wider questions about the country's judicial system to deliver justice to international standards.

Cambodia's courts are widely seen as weak and lacking independence. The government has come under sustained criticism this year for using legal action against people in politics, media and civil society whom it perceives as its critics.