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, July 27, 2010

Kaing Guek Eav convicted of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949

The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) today found KAING Guek Eav alias Duch guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and sentenced him to 35 (thirty-five) years of imprisonment.

KAING Guek Eav, the first person to stand trial before the ECCC, served as Deputy and then Chairman of S-21, a security centre tasked with interrogating and executing persons perceived as enemies of Democratic Kampuchea by the Communist Party of Kampuchea. S-21 was operational between 1975 and 1979. The Chamber found that every individual detained within S-21 was destined for execution in accordance with the Communist Party of Kampuchea policy to “smash” all enemies. In addition to mass executions, many detainees died as a result of torture and their conditions of detention. Although finding a minimum of 12,272 individuals to have been detained and executed at S-21 on the basis of prisoner lists, the Chamber indicated that the actual number of detainees is likely to have been considerably greater.

The Trial Chamber found that KAING Guek Eav acted with various individuals, and through his subordinates, to operate S-21 and S-24: an adjunct facility used as a re-education camp, and where a minimum of a further 1,300 individuals were detained. It further found that KAING Guek Eav possessed and exercised significant authority at S-21 and that his conduct in carrying out his functions showed a high degree of efficiency and zeal. He worked tirelessly to ensure that S-21 ran as efficiently as possible and did so out of unquestioning loyalty to his superiors. The Chamber found that KAING Guek Eav therefore not only implemented but actively contributed to the development of Communist Party of Kampuchea policies at S-21.

KAING Guek Eav had also been charged with national crimes of premeditated murder and torture, punishable before the ECCC under Article 3 (new) of the ECCC Law. The Chamber, in a separate decision also issued today, disagreed on whether responsibility for these crimes had already been extinguished before the ECCC investigation of the Accused commenced. The absence of a required majority prevented the Chamber exercising its jurisdiction in relation to these national crimes. This decision had no impact on sentence.

KAING Guek Eav was convicted of crimes against humanity (persecution on politicalgrounds) (incorporating various other crimes against humanity, including extermination,imprisonment and torture), as well as numerous grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, for which, by a majority, the Chamber imposed a single, consolidated sentence of 35 (thirty-five) years of imprisonment. In deciding on an appropriate sentence, the Chamber noted a number of aggravating features, in particular the gravity of the offences, which were perpetrated against at least 12,272 victims over a prolonged period.

The Chamber decided that there are significant mitigating factors that mandated the imposition of a finite term of imprisonment rather than one of life imprisonment. These factors include cooperation with the Chamber, admission of responsibility, limited expressions of remorse, the coercive environment in Democratic Kampuchea, and the potential for rehabilitation.

Following an earlier decision of the Chamber of 15 June 2009, the Chamber considered that a reduction in the above sentence of 5 (five) years was appropriate given the violation of KAING Guek Eav’s rights occasioned by his illegal detention by the Cambodian Military Court between 10 May 1999 and 30 July 2007. KAING Guek Eav is further entitled to credit for time already spent in detention, under the authority both of the Cambodian Military Court and the ECCC.

In its judgement, the Trial Chamber declared 66 Civil Parties either to have established their claim to be immediate victims of S-21 or S-24, or to have proved the existence of immediate victims of S-21 or S-24 and close kinship or particular bonds of affection or dependency in relation to them. They have further shown that the death of these victims caused demonstrable injury and that this harm was a direct consequence of KAING Guek Eav’s offending. The Chamber granted the request of these Civil Parties that their names be included in the judgement. The Chamber rejected all Civil Party claims on the grounds of lack of specificity, for as being beyond the scope of available reparations before the ECCC. However, it ordered the compilation and publication of all statements of apology made by the Accused during the trial.

The substantive part of the trial against KAING Guek Eav commenced on 30 March 2009. Closing arguments ended on 27 November 2009 after a total of 72 trial days, during which 24 witnesses, 22 Civil Parties and nine experts were heard. More than 28,000 people followed the proceedings from the public gallery.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Khmer Rouge Sentence Is Denounced as Too Lenient


By DOUGLAS GILLISON / PHNOM PENH Douglas Gillison / Phnom Penh – 1 hr 42 mins ago

Cambodians hoping for a punishment to match their suffering expected more. In its first verdict, the U.N.-backed tribunal established in 2006 to try the leaders and decision makers of the Pol Pot regime convicted the regime's secret police chief of war crimes and crimes against humanity, sentencing him on Monday to 35 years in prison for the murders of as many of 14,000 people.

But in an irony few victims will appreciate, the court allowed the accused, Kaing Guek Eav, 67, who is best known by his revolutionary name "Duch," a five-year reduction for violations of his human rights due to his excessive pretrial detention by Cambodian authorities, which lasted eight years. In addition, Duch - a Christian convert who, during his nine-month trial admitted to ordering the executions of 160 children in a single day in June 1977 - was credited for the 11 years he has served since his arrest in 1999. Only 19 years of his sentence remain, and if Cambodian law is applied, he could, in theory, be eligible for parole in just years 12 years. (See photos of the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge.)

In the 500-seat public gallery, which was filled to capacity, the largest of any courtroom in the world, there was uncomprehending silence as Judge Nil Nonn, the Trial Chamber's president, read out the judgment and the arithmetic of the sentence's reductions.

Later, outside the courthouse, Chum Mey, 79, one of the handful who survived internment at S-21 and who lost his family to the regime, said he was outraged. "I will never accept such a decision," he said. "I am not happy with this court. My tears have dropped twice already because it's not what I wished." (Read a brief history of the Khmer Rouge.)

War crimes tribunals are known for punishing mass atrocities with sentences that resemble those given to criminals at ordinary courts. For his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacres, Bosnian Serb Major General Radislav Krstic was also sentenced by the Yugoslavia tribunal to 35 years for the massacres of 7,000 to 8,000 men and boys, causing the lead prosecutor to calculate that this amounted to 1.825 days in prison per victim. (Comment on this story.)

In Duch's case, the prosecution in November had recommended 40 years and said following the verdict that they were considering an appeal. "It certainly provides a penalty that the Cambodian public will appreciate in the fact that it's a custodial sentence," said William Smith, international deputy co-prosecutor, who noted that the defense had improbably asked for an acquittal at the very end of trial. "We'll be reviewing the judgment, reviewing the findings of fact and seeing whether or not there have been any errors made."

In the service of the Khmer Rouge leadership, Duch committed crimes that became emblematic of the atrocities of his regime, though they were only one part of the wave of criminality that convulsed Cambodia in 1975 and that prosecutors say left between 1.7 million and 2.2 million dead through starvation, overwork, disease and execution.

Pol Pot and the leaders of the communist insurgency that seized Phnom Penh in 1975 put Duch in the service of their implacable, paranoid belief that secret enemies were hiding everywhere. Duch, a former schoolteacher turned chief of Cambodia's secret police, known by the codename S-21, into a killing machine, sacrificing men, women and children to his superiors' foregone conclusions. Under torture, thousands were forced to invent fantastic confessions of treachery for the CIA, the KGB or Vietnamese agents, though interrogators knew these were false.

By the time the S-21 detention center, located in Phnom Penh, was abandoned as invading Vietnamese forces took the capital in January 1979, the mass murder had spread to nearly every zone, district, ministry and military unit, capturing Duch's own childhood schoolteacher, his brother-in-law, his predecessor as chief of S-21, the minister of finance, the minister of commerce, 5,000 government officials, 4,500 military personnel, 400 Vietnamese soldiers and civilians, a handful of captured Westerners and 200 of S-21's own staff.

At Duch's detailed instruction, methods of torture included electrical shock, the force-feeding of human excrement, waterboarding, the removal of fingernails, the insertion of needles under the fingernails, suffocation and beating. Vivisections were performed on live prisoners and the court determined that 100 people were executed by being bled to death. Pending their executions, semi-nude detainees were shackled in rows or kept in tiny brick cells on a starvation diet. (See the 25 crimes of the century.)

Duch remains part of a second case that includes four other suspects accused of the entirety of the regime's crimes. Though indictments in that case have yet to be handed down, the prosecutions promise to involve the largest number of victim of any trials since the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg.

At the guidance of his French defense lawyer, Francois Roux, Duch began his trial last year hoping to receive a lesser sentence by confessing to his crimes, promising to accept any punishment the court would impose and apologizing to his victims. But in a shock reversal, Duch told the court in November, "Release me," and his Cambodian lawyer, Kar Savuth, who boasts of close ties to the family of Prime Minster Hun Sen, has vowed to appeal.

Roux was fired earlier this month by Duch, who told the judges he had lost confidence in the attorney, an acclaimed litigator who won the first ever acquittal at the Rwanda tribunal and now directs the defense office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon at The Hague.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an organization which collected and preserved much of the evidentiary record used by the tribunal, said that in the capital, the verdict had been met by many with disbelief, with one man saying he wanted to punch his television screen. "I think they don't see any humanity in him at all," he said. "He was a living devil."

Chhang said he believed the verdict had begun a "healthy" process of reconciling Cambodians with their history. "Any amount of years will not satisfy anybody," he said. "It is a difficult lesson for [Cambodians] to learn but it will take time."

With reporting by Kuch Naren / Phnom Penh

Cambodia: Khmer Rouge Official Found Guilty of Atrocities by UN-Backed Court

NEW YORK--(ENEWSPF)--26 July 2010 – Three decades after nearly 2 million people perished under Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia, a United Nations-backed tribunal issued its first verdict today, finding the former head of a notorious detention camp guilty of crimes against humanity.

Photo: ECCC/Reuters

Sentenced to 35 years in prison by the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Kaing Guek Eav, whose alias is Duch, was also found guilty of grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva conventions and sentenced to 35 years in prison by the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The first person to stand trial before the court, he headed the S-21 camp, also known as Tuol Sleng, where numerous Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed in the late 1970s.

“He worked tirelessly to ensure that S-21 ran as efficiently as possible and did so out of unquestioning loyalty to his superiors,” according to a news release issued by the ECCC today.

The trial chamber found that Mr. Kaing not only implemented, but also actively contributed to the development of the policies of the Communist Party of Kampuchea at S-21.

Estimates vary but as many as two million are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.

In deciding on a sentence, the ECCC said that it took note of several factors, including the gravity of the offences. Although prisoner lists from S-21 show that at least 12,272 people were detained and executed, the trial chamber believes the number of victims is considerably larger.

The chamber also decided on a finite sentence instead of life imprisonment due to the defendant’s cooperation with the ECCC, his admission of responsibility and the potential for rehabilitation, among other factors.

Mr. Kaing’s sentence will be reduced by five years due to his illegal detention by the Cambodian Military Court between 1999 and 2007, and he is already entitled to credit for time already served.

During his trial, which began in March last year and wrapped up in November, 24 witnesses, 22 civil parties and nine experts were heard. More than 28,000 people followed the proceedings from the public gallery.

The ECCC, established in 2003 under an agreement between the UN and Cambodia, is tasked with trying senior leaders and those most responsible for serious violations of Cambodian and international law committed during the Khmer Rouge rule. It is staffed by both Cambodian and international employees and judges.

The court’s co-investigating judges may issue a closing order, or indictment, against four leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime – Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan – later this year.

In April, it dismissed appeals by three of them for release from provisional detention ahead of their trials.

Rage at Light Sentence for Khmer Rouge Killer of 12,000


MARK COLVIN: Some history's been made in South East Asia today.

Some estimates say a million and a half people died, directly or indirectly, at the hands of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge. Today for the first time one of those responsible was sentenced to jail.

In a joint international/Cambodian court this afternoon the notorious jailer of Tuol Sleng prison, the man known as Comrade Duch, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

He'd confessed to being responsible for the murder and torture of more than 12,000 people. But the sentence was five years less than the prosecutors wanted. The judges reduced it because of "mitigating circumstances". That brought fury from the crowd outside the Phnom Penh court.

Conor Duffy is in Phnom Phen and joins me now.

MARK COLVIN: Conor, what were the mitigating circumstances for the deaths of 12,000 people?

CONOR DUFFY: Well it's hard to think that there could be any mitigating circumstances at all, Mark, but the reason that the judges gave was that Comrade Duch had been illegally arrested by the Cambodian military back in the late '90s.

Now he's already served 11 years in jail which is being discounted from the sentence of 30 years. So people, in effect, are almost saying that you know they doubled dipped on this, that he's getting time off for the time he's served and he's getting an extra five years reduced because of this.

Now this was a packed courtroom today, Mark, as you can imagine. It was crammed with people who had lost loved ones. Of course there was a huge international media contingent and it was before the eyes of the world that President Nil Nonn calmly and dispassionately listed some of the brutal atrocities of Duch and it's hard to see how there could be mitigating circumstances for any of them.

These are crimes we're talking about like raping women with sticks, murder, torture and the execution of thousands.

The judge also discussed a suggestion from Duch's defence team that, you know, he had just been following orders and shouldn't be held to account. Duch himself wanted to be acquitted. The judge said that that was not (inaudible) and in any case Duch had shown quite an enthusiasm for his work and had trained others in his brutal methods.

MARK COLVIN: What was Duch's reaction to the sentence?

CONOR DUFFY: He was completely impassive. He has been completely impassive throughout the trial, I understand, and it was no different today. He didn't raise an eyebrow. He even, as he was lead away to the docks, he remained quiet.

And now there's a big question over exactly where Duch is going to serve his sentence because there are fears for his safety. So Cambodian authorities are now juggling with how they deal with that.

MARK COLVIN: Well he's 67 so it's- after 19 years it is possible that he actually will walk out a free man. What did the crowd outside think of that?

CONOR DUFFY: That was something, Mark, that absolutely infuriated a huge number of people there. There were people there who had lost their parents, brothers, who had been tortured in Khmer Rouge prisons.

There were, many of them were crying, visibly emotional and I recorded a short interview with a prominent Cambodian woman, Theary Seng, who lost both her parents and I think this will give you a little bit of a flavour of just how strong the feeling is about this.

(Except from interview)

CONOR DUFFY: And as this news sort of spreads out through Cambodia, how do you think other people are going to react?

THEARY SENG: There's already a collective shock and a collective revolt at the verdict and this shock and revolt will spread and will imbed the cynicism that is already very much in society. You know we are very distrusting, or very mistrusting people, because of the fears which lingers so heavily here.

So this has only imbed and created further cynicism in our society.

CONOR DUFFY: And does this add further insult to the great injury that you and many other people suffered here?

THEARY SENG: Oh, yes. It's a major insult. It's inexpressible, the insult. It's a slap to the face of the survivors that a person who killed 14,000 lives, took 14,000 lives is now only serving 19 years, which comes down to effectively serving 11 hours per life.

(End of interview)

MARK COLVIN: Theary Seng speaking to Conor Duffy outside the courtroom there.

So this was an extraordinary injury to the whole country. I think one fifth of the population died directly or indirectly because of Pol Pot and his cohorts like Comrade Duch. Is it a healed country? Is it ever going to be a healed country?

CONOR DUFFY: Well it certainly isn't at the moment, Mark, and I think as you heard from that short interview there, the anger and the pain is still so fresh among many Cambodians. This international court was supposed to help that and judging on the Duch verdict it's still got a long way to go.

There is another trial that's due to start next year which is the foremost senior remaining members of Pol Pot's regime that are still alive today. Although Prime Minister, Hun Sen, from Cambodia has said that he doesn't want that trial to go ahead because it could lead to civil war.

The court itself is broke and struggling for money. The trial of Duch alone cost $100 million. So, look in terms of healing and Cambodia moving on, there's a huge way to go and perhaps this case Number Two, as it's known, which is due to start next year may go some way to getting there.

MARK COLVIN: Conor Duffy in Phnom Phen. Thank you very much.

Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Sentenced to 19 Years

Luke Hunt


A U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia has found a former Khmer Rouge leader guilty of numerous crimes against humanity, and ordered him to spend 19 years in prison.

Emotions were high in the war crimes court as the guilty verdict against Kang Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was announced for his part in running Pol Pot's feared secret police in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

The verdict was met with a great sense of relief in the public gallery. Victims of the Khmer Rouge wept openly and hugged each other. Across the country millions watched and listened as the decision was broadcast live by local television and radio networks.

The U.N.-backed court found the former commandant of the S21 extermination camp guilty of torture, murder and crimes against humanity, which were committed more than three decades ago.

Prosecutors had sought a jail term of 40 years. But the court handed down a sentence of 35 years and then reduced it to 19, considering mitigating circumstances, such as an expression of remorse, cooperation with the court and time served.

Youk Chhang is director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has spent more than 10 years gathering evidence against surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Despite the sentencing, he says the verdict will play an enormous part in helping Cambodians to reconcile their tragic past.

"I think it's important not only for Cambodia in general but also for the globe to understand that it's never too late to seek justice. And on the other side it's important for us to look into ways in which the genocide can be and should be prevented," he said.

The Khmer Rouge were ousted by invading Vietnamese troops in early 1979, but conflict continued for another two decades. It was then that Cambodia asked the United Nations to help broker an international tribunal to focus on the atrocities allegedly carried out by Pol Pot and his collaborators.

Duch is the first of five senior Khmer Rouge leaders to stand trial for his part in the genocide committed in the 1970s. More than 1.7 million people - a quarter of Cambodia's population - died by starvation, disease, torture and execution.

Youk Chhang says the evidence against Duch's should prove effective in prosecuting the other four senior Khmer Rouge leaders who are expected to appear before the court later this year or in early 2011.

Khmer Rouge Torture Chief Sentenced 35 Years In Prison

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, a former Khmer Rouge prison chief was handed a 30-year prison sentence by a United Nations-backed war crimes court for his role in atrocities committed under the regime in the late 1970s, including murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts, crimes against humanity and other charges.

It is the first verdict issued so far in Phnom Penh by the court instituted in 2004 by the UN and government to try those responsible for crimes committed between 1975 and 1979, in the period between the communist revolution of Pol Pot and Vietnamese invasion.

Duch, 67, will only serve 19 years after the court subtracted 16 years for time already served - short of the maximum 40 years sought by the prosecution and the life behind bars many Cambodians demanded – due also to his “remorse” declared in court for what occurred at the S-21 detention centre in Phom Penh.

The former schoolteacher admitted during the eight-month trial to overseeing the torture and the killing of thousands of people but said he was only following orders.

According to the prosecution, over 12,273 people were killed, mainly accused of being spies or however enemies of the “revolution”.

The court instituted for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge was set up after long complex negotiations.

The next trials could be more controversial and difficult, also on a political level, especially due to caution on the part of the Cambodian government.

The next to stand trial are former president Khieu Samphan, Khmer leader Nuon Chea, former Foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith.

It is believed that between 1975 and 1979, some 1.7 million people were killed in Cambodia.


MISNA (Missionary International Service News Agency) provides daily news ‘from, about and for’ the 'world’s Souths', not just in the geographical sense. Journalistically, the news agency – which is often described as ‘alternative’ or as providing ‘counter-information’ – has the primary aim of integrating and sometimes also ‘correcting’ the ‘genetically modified information’ put into circulation by large global news systems that have a different perception of the world.

Cambodian TV Coverage

The level of coverage of the verdict in the Duch case (Case 001) by the Cambodian media is, perhaps, unprecedented of the outcome of any trial previously held in this country or possibly any event (outside sports and speeches of the Prime Minister). Live broadcast took place in the morning and evening saw at least one full re-run perforated with extensive commentary and interviews with observers.

Victims: Khmer Rouge Jailer’s Sentence Too Light

The Associated Press

Monday, July 26, 2010
1:51 a.m.

A war crimes tribunal convicted and sentenced the Khmer Rouge's chief jailer Monday for overseeing the deaths of up to 16,000 people, in the first verdict involving a senior member of the "killing fields" regime that devastated a generation of Cambodians.

Victims and their relatives burst into tears after hearing that a 35-year sentence given to Kaing Guek Eav _ also known as Duch _ had been whittled down to just 19 after taking into account time already served and other factors. That effectively means the 67-year-old could one day walk free.

"I can't accept this," said Saodi Ouch, 46, shaking so hard she could hardly talk. "My family died ... my older sister, my older brother. I'm the only one left."

The U.N.-backed tribunal _ 10 years and $100 million in the making _ has sought to find justice for victims of the Khmer Rouge regime that killed an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, medical neglect, slave-like working conditions and execution from 1975-79.

The group's top leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 and four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial. Some legal experts said the tribunal may have acted more leniently with Duch, because they were saving the worst punishment for members of the regime's inner clique.

Duch, who headed Tuol Sleng, a secret detention center for the worst "enemies" of the state, was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During the 77-day proceedings, Duch admitted to overseeing the deaths of up to 16,000 people who passed through the prison's gates. Torture used to extract confessions included pulling out prisoners' toenails, administering electric shocks and waterboarding.

The court said at least 100 people bled to death in medieval-style medical experiments.

Unlike the other defendants, Duch (pronounced DOIK) has several times expressed remorse, even offering at one point to face a public stoning and to allow victims to visit him in jail. But his surprise request on the final day of the trial to be acquitted and freed, left many wondering if his contrition was sincere.

"He tricked everybody," said Chum Mey, 79, one of just a few people sent to Toul Sleng who survived. The key witness wiped water from his eyes. "See ... my tears drop down again. I feel like I was victim during the Khmer Rouge, and now I'm a victim once again."

Duch showed no emotion as he listened Monday to the judge talk about the court's findings.

Nil Nonn, the chief justice, said the jailer was often present during interrogations at Tuol Sleng and signed off on all the tortures and executions, sometimes taking part himself. He said the court had rejected arguments that he was acting on orders from the top because he feared for his own life.

"He worked tirelessly to ensure that S-21 ran as efficiently as possible and did so out of unquestioning loyalty to his superiors," said the judge.

When the verdict was read out, Duch stood up and looked straight ahead, his eyes shifting but showing no emotion.

The prosecution and defense have one month to appeal.

A former math teacher, Duch joined Pol Pot's movement in 1967. Ten years later, he was the trusted head of its ultimate killing machine, S-21, which became the code name for Tuol Sleng.

After a Vietnamese invasion forced the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979 after a bloody, four-year reign, Duch disappeared for almost two decades, living under various aliases in northwestern Cambodia, where he had converted to Christianity. His chance discovery by a British journalist led to his arrest in May 1999.

Though the tribunal has been credited with helping the traumatized nation speak out publicly for the first time about atrocities committed three decades ago, it has been criticized as well.

The government insisted Cambodians be on the panel of judges, opening the door for political interference. It also sought to limit the number of suspects being tried _ fearing, some say, it would implicate its own ranks. The prime minister and other current leaders were once low-level members of the Khmer Rouge.

Though most people doubted Duch would get the maximum life imprisonment, few expected he'd get less than 35 years in jail. The decision to shave 16 for time already served and illegal detention in a military prison, means he has 18 years and 10 months left.

More than 1,000 villagers showed up for the verdict, some traveling more than 180 miles (300 kilometers) by bus.

"It's just unacceptable to have a man who killed thousands of people serving just 19 years," said Theary Seng, a human rights lawyer who lost both of her parents and has been working with others to find justice.

"Now no one is going to have the energy to look at the second case."

An international civil rights lawyer and associate fellow of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs also criticized the court's "unimaginative" reparation order, which was limited to simply publishing the judgement. Mahdev Mohan said the U.N.-backed tribunal could have ordered Duch to build a memorial to the victims and to do other work to deter future crimes against humanity.

Among those at Monday's verdict was New Zealander Rob Hamill, the brother of one of a handful of Westerners killed by the Khmer Rouge. Kerry, then 28, was sailing across Asia when his yacht was captured in Cambodian waters in 1978. He was taken to Toul Sleng and killed.

Another brother committed suicide months later, and their mother died seven years ago.

"All I can say is my family, who are no longer here to see justice, would not want to see this man set free, even if it's in 19 years time," said Hamill, 46, struggling to contain his emotion. "It's reality but I'm not happy... he should not be a free man."

Associated Press Writer Cheang Sopheng contributed to this report from Jakarta.


A Cambodian colleague when asked about how he felt about the verdict said that he had no feelings about it and barely remembered it was being handed down today. Unprovoked, he further added that no one he knew was watching the verdict hearing and that, in his opinion, the entire tribunal was not much more than a charade.

Cambodians Upset by the Verdict

Channel News Asia reported earlier tonight that its reporters on the ground felt that Cambodians were disappointed by the verdict as many interviewed observers of the verdict said it was not harsh enough.

Khmer Rouge's Chief Jailer Guilty of War Crimes

Robin Mcdowell

A U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal sentenced the former Khmer Rouge chief jailer Monday to 35 years in prison — the first verdict involving a leader of the genocidal regime that destroyed a generation of Cambodia's people.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, listened impassively as the chief judge read out the verdict, convicting him of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He will serve only 19 years of the sentence, because Judge Nil Nonn said the court shaved off the 11 years he's already spent in detention and five more for being illegally detained in a military court.

He had faced a maximum sentence of death, and many victims and their relatives watching the verdict were angry that his sentence was not more severe. Some of them broke down in tears.

During the course of his 77-day trial, Duch admitted to heading Toul Sleng, a top secret detention center for the worst "enemies" of the state. More than 16,000 people passed through its gates before they were killed. Torture used to extract confessions included pulling out prisoners' toenails, administering electric shocks and waterboarding.

"I can't accept this," said Saodi Ouch, 46, echoing what many Cambodians would see as a light sentence. She was weeping so hard she could hardly talk. "My family died ... my older sister, my older brother. I'm the only one left."

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died from starvation, medical neglect, slave-like working conditions and execution under the Maoist regime that sought to turn the country into an agrarian utopia from 1975-79. Their bodies were dumped in shallow mass graves that still dot the countryside.

The group's top leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 and four other top members of the Khmer Rouge are awaiting trial.

Unlike the other defendants, Duch (pronounced DOIK) was not among the ruling clique and is the only major figure of the regime to have expressed remorse, even offering at one point to face a public stoning. But his surprise request on the final day of the trial to be acquitted and freed, left many wondering if his contrition was sincere.

A former math teacher, Duch joined Pol Pot's movement in 1967. Ten years later, he was the trusted head of its ultimate killing machine, S-21, which became the code name for Tuol Sleng.

Only 14 prisoners are thought to have survived ordeals at the prison that included medieval-like tortures, followed by executions and burials outside Phnom Penh.

Prosecutors asked that Duch face 40 years in prison.

Hundreds of villagers — many who lost family members during the Khmer Rouge — attended the hearing.

Khmer Rouge prison chief sentenced to 35 years in jail

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – A U.N.-backed tribunal sentenced a senior member of the Khmer Rouge to 35 years in prison on Monday in its first verdict three decades after the Maoist "Killing Fields" revolution tore Cambodia apart.

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, was found guilty of murder and torture, and crimes against humanity for running Tuol Sleng prison, a converted school that symbolized the horrors of the ultra-communist regime blamed for 1.7 million deaths in 1975-79.

The 67-year-old the former schoolteacher will only serve 30 years of his sentence because the court ruled he was held illegally for five years by the Cambodian military.

The verdict was short of the maximum 40 years sought by the prosecution and of the life behind bars demanded by many Cambodians who have struggled to find closure for one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.

Duch admitted to overseeing the torture and killing of more than 14,000 people in his prison, also known as S-21 but said he was only carrying out orders. His case is the first heard by the joint U.N.-Cambodian court set up to prosecute the Khmer Rouge.

It is seen as a critical test for a multimillion dollar tribunal that has struggled to end decades of silence on the darkest chapter of Cambodia's modern history.

Thousands huddled around televisions in cafes and homes to watch live broadcasts of the verdict.

Now a born-again Christian, Duch has expressed "excruciating remorse" for the S-21 victims, most of them tortured and forced to confess to spying and other crimes before they were bludgeoned at the "Killing Fields" execution sites during the agrarian revolution, which ended with a 1979 invasion by Vietnam.

Monday, July 5, 2010

UN Envoy Apologizes for Remarks

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Monday, 28 June 2010
The UN’s human rights rapporteur, Surya Subedi, has sent a letter of apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen after he made a statement deeply critical of the court system and claiming he was “disappointed” the premier canceled a scheduled visit on his trip.

Hun Sen, who has had rocky relations with similar envoy’s in the past, said the remarks were impolite and disrespectful following a 10-day visit this month.

Subdei sent an apology and well wishes for healthy recovery in a June 21 letter, said Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hun Sen has responded and the “controversy” will be “abased,” the spokesman said.

Riona Judge McCormack, a spokesman for the UN’s office of human rights in Phnom Penh, said Subedi’s letter also outlined “the matters he would have discussed with the prime minister if they had met.”

Courts Suffer From Political Structure: Legal Experts

Sok khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 02 July 2010
Cambodia’s judicial system remains a political structure with little hope for reform unless the leadership and the system changes, leading democracy advocates said Thursday.

“If the leader wants to hold the position of leader, there needs to be a change to his policy regarding the court system in providing independence to the courts,” said Seng Theary, head of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “Otherwise, we as citizens need to mobilize to express a peaceful voice and our right to vote.”

The courts have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as they’ve shouldered criticism for political bias and corruption. Rights groups say many people have lost faith in the judiciary, where decisions often lean toward the rich or powerful.

A change in structure is needed, Seng Theary said.

“The leader now, he does not have the willingness to reform the court system, because the court system is a political tool,” she said. “So why would he need to reform it?”

Seng Theary, who is also a lawyer, said the judges she meets are good people but are limited in the work they can do, even if they want things to change.

“They know what the problem is, because their choice in daily life is to be corrupt and commit injustices, or abandon their lives and their families,” she said.

Am Sam Ath, a rights monitor for Licadho who also joined “Hello VOA” Thursday, said judges and prosecutors are appointed by royal decree, but they are nominated by the government, so they can be fired, putting them under political pressure.

“So when they work as appointed from power in politics…what do they consider?” he said. “That’s why we now see the court system under pressure of politicians, and that’s why it’s very hard to drag the court to independence.”