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, November 27, 2007

Khmer Rouge jailer demands his human rights

Khmer Rouge jailer demands his human rights

Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh (dpa) - A single survivor of the Khmer Rouge's most notorious prison sat stoney-faced in the public gallery as the jail's former commandant began his first day of court hearings for pre-trial release on human rights grounds.

One of less than 10 survivors of the S-21 torture centre, Chum Mey listened as attorneys for his former jailer, Kang Keng Iev, alias Duch, argued that detaining the 65-year-old for more than eight years without trial breached his human rights and appealed for bail.

Duch, a born-again Christian, was discovered in 1999 working as a teacher in the northwestern province of Battambang and has been imprisoned virtually ever since.

Duch has never argued that he was not in charge of Phnom Penh's S-21 torture centre, Toul Sleng, where it is estimated up to 17,000 people were "processed" and survivors taken to the "killing fields" to be executed or worked to death in agricultural labour camps.

"This is a relief for me. This feels like at last something is happening to start to find justice," Chum Mey said outside the courtroom. "It is my duty as a survivor to come. The others were too ill to come or could not make it here today, so I represent them."

Duch has been formally charged with crimes against humanity by the joint UN-Cambodia tribunal, and security was tight as people crowded into the court Tuesday morning.

Tuesday's hearing consisted mainly of complex legal arguments, although the prosecution detailed some of the atrocities alleged to have taken place inside the prison.

Those included placing people in pits filled with water and watching as the prisoner drowned; electric shock therapy; pulling out fingernails and other forms of torture.

Duch made a brief speech early to the court in the morning, his hands clasped in front of him in supplication as he gave basic details of his family and places of residence before his arrest.

The hearing is expected to last at least two days with a decision scheduled for late this month or early next month, according to court spokesman Reach Sambath.

It comes nearly three decades after the 1975-79 regime was toppled by invading Vietnamese forces. Up to 2 million Cambodians perished under the Khmer Rouge in its drive to transform the country into a classless agrarian utopia.

Four other former leaders have been charged by the court: former leader Pol Pot's chief deputy, Nuon Chea; former head of state Khieu Samphan; former deputy prime minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Pol Pot's sister-in-law Khieu Thirith.

Outside the courthouse Tuesday, Khieu Samphan's wife So Socheat mounted her own vigil for her husband, who was arrested and charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes Monday.

"I am waiting to be allowed to see him. We will also be asking for the court to allow him to be freed before his trial," she said.

© Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2007


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home