Khmer Rouge Hearing Wraps Up
The arguments came as the UN-backed Cambodian genocide tribunal wrapped up the opening session of the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, after just a day and a half. Full hearings are expected to start next month.
Duch's lawyers opposed a prosecution bid to show footage shot by Vietnamese troops showing conditions at the prison two days after they helped to topple the communist Khmer Rouge regime on January 7, 1979.
'We the defence regard this video footage as having political motivation in nature to disguise the truth of the nature of the event,' co-defence lawyer Kar Savuth said, adding that it was effectively a Vietnamese propaganda film.
The seven-minute, black-and-white video shows scenes of horror inside the abandoned prison, which was a former high school, including several bloated corpses strapped to iron bedframes where they were apparently tortured. It also shows five children who survived the retreat of the Khmer Rouge from the jail by hiding in a pile of washing.
Prosecutors said it was essential for the tribunal to see the film, partly because it confirmed that children were held at the notorious jail as well as men and women.
'It is an absolute must for this trial chamber to have all available evidence,' said co-prosecutor Robert Petit, adding that they wanted to call the Vietnamese cameraman and other witnesses related to the video.
Cameraman Ho Van Tay was reunited with one of the child survivors, Cambodian Norng Chan Pal, at a news conference on Monday when they discussed the contents of the film. Lawyers also presented lists of witnesses whose admissibility the court is considering.
Duch, a former maths teacher now aged 66, could be seen listening impassively to the arguments through headphones.
Chief judge Nil Nonn later announced the end of the initial session but did not say when the trial would restart. Court spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said substantive hearings would likely begin in late March.
Duch is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder, and faces a life sentence.He has taken responsibility for his iron-fisted rule at Tuol Sleng, which was used as a mass torture centre to extract confessions from alleged traitors that they were spies for the CIA, KGB and other foreign powers.
Former Vietnamese leader Le Duc Anh, who helped organise the 1979 invasion to oust the Khmer Rouge, on Wednesday hailed the start of the trial of Duch.
'Thirty years after the downfall of the Khmer Rouge, I say better late than never,' Anh, who served as president of communist Vietnam from 1992-97, said in an interview with the online daily VietnamNet. 'Not judging them for what they did was almost like condoning the crimes of people who set up a genocidal regime.' -- AFP