ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who will be next to face the ECCC?

Who will be next to face the ECCC?

(Somne Thmey, October 1 - translated and published in English in Development Weekly)

The burning issue for both Khmer Rouge (KR) victims and Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) observers is who will be next to be charged after former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Khek Ieu (Duch) and ‘Brother Number Two’ Nuon Chea. Although the KRT has not publicly identified their next target, many suspect Ieng Sary, known as ‘Brother Number Three’, the former deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, or Khieu Samphan, former head of state of the Democratic Kampuchea, the two most senior KR officials still alive and at liberty.

The rumors are so well known that Sary and Samphan have themselves said they suspect they will be the next to be charged and both have announced they are ready to face the KRT. Khieu Samphan has already chosen a defense lawyer.

Sary or Samphan?

Analysts have said that the September 19 arrest of Nuon Chea came only after Duch, who was under his command during the KR regime, deferred responsibility for his crimes to ‘Brother Number Two’. This gave the co-investigating judges enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant and charge Nuon Chea.

Nuon Chea had already predicted Duch would shift blame to himself because of disputes they had during the 1990s. According to Solomon Kane’s Dictionary of the Khmer Rouge, Duch was sharply scolded for his negligence in failing to destroy photographic and documentary evidence at S-21 before Phnom Penh was liberated by a joint Cambodian-Vietnamese force on January 7, 1979.

This process has led KRT analysts to regard arrests as a sequential process in which the co-investigating judges try to gather evidence from existing detainees to charge the next person to be arrested. It is thought that the questioning of Nuon Chea will yield enough incriminating evidence to enable the ECCC to issue an arrest warrant for either Ieng Sary or Khieu Samphan.

But who will be first?

Ieng Sary was the more active player in the KR in his role as the deputy prime minister in charge of foreign affairs and as a member of the permanent committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. According to documentary evidence and the accounts of KR victims, it was Ieng Sary who called on overseas scholars to return to Cambodia to help rebuild the nation, a call which would lead to their detention, and to many deaths. According to Ung Thong Heourng, a survivor of the Boeng Trabek re-educational camp for returning scholars and Dey Kraham center in Kompong Cham province, where nearly 2,000 scholars who returned to Cambodia between 1975 and 1976 were killed. Heourng has said he should appear as a witness before the KRT if it will charge Ieng Sary.

And Khieu Samphan? The former doctoral student of economics was appointed head of the state of the Democratic Kampuchea in 1976 after King Father Norodom Sihanouk resigned from the post. If one believes Khieu Samphan’s book Cambodia’s Recent History, it was a post he was reluctant to accept. “In April 1976, Khmer Rouge leaders decided to accept the king father’s resignation and the position of the head of state fell on me. However uncomfortable I felt, my conscience demanded that I accept the role; otherwise, it would be as if I avoided my obligation to the nation,” he said in the book.

Khieu Samphan claimed that from 1975 to 1978, he was assigned to ‘Department 870’ to continue contact with Norodom Sihanouk and his wife, who were effectively living under house arrest in the royal palace, to set value of collective farm crops and to execute decisions by the permanent committee related to the import and distribution of equipment.

However, according to Kane’s dictionary, after becoming head of state in June 1976, Khieu Samphan was made a full member of the central committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea and therefore participated in decision-making at the highest level.

However, Khieu Samphan has denied any knowledge of the human rights abuses of the KR regime.

Odds on favorite

Based on his historical record, Ieng Sary is the obvious choice to be charged next by the ECCC; there is convincing evidence implicating him in the detention, torture and murder of scholars who returned to Cambodia in response to his request. Many were kept at S-21—a location which has already yielded evidence that at least contributed to the charges against Duch and Nuon Chea.

However, the case is not clear; evidence from the KR-era Boeng Trabek re-education center may implicate senior officials in the present government. If Ieng Sary is arrested and charged, some of Cambodia’s ruling elite may feel very uncomfortable.

The evidence against Khieu Samphan is also damning, as the ECCC has charged Nuon Chea, the president of the KR National Assembly, the organization’s legislative body. Khieu Samphan, according to Kane’s book, headed the drafting of the new constitution, the supreme law, of Democratic Kampuchea (DK), as Cambodia was known under the KR.

KRT analysts have said that evidence from Nuon Chea will probably provide the foundation for any further arrest warrants issued by the ECCC. But the wait may be a long one; Nuon Chea is in poor health, suffering from high blood pressure. Questioning him may prove difficult.

Victims can only wait, patiently biding their time until the former KR leaders are forced to tell the truth about a regime which was responsible for the deaths of nearly two million people.


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