Home > Khmer Rouge, Local News > Former Khmer Rouge security chief Duch appeals conviction – Summary

Former Khmer Rouge security chief Duch appeals conviction – Summary

Phnom Penh – The prosecution at the
international war crimes court on Monday rejected as baseless the
grounds for acquittal sought on appeal by Comrade Duch, the Khmer
Rouge’s former security chief.
 
Duch headed the notorious torture
and execution centre known as S-21. The tribunal last year sentenced
him to 35 years for his role in the deaths of at least 12,272 detainees
between 1976-79. 
 
Earlier on Monday lawyers for Duch, whose real
name is Kaing Guek Eav, said the UN-backed tribunal lacked jurisdiction
over their client since he was not a senior Khmer Rouge cadre and had
merely followed orders. But prosecutor Chea Leang argued that
the defence challenge to the court had come far too late, and ought to
have been made at the start of the trial in early 2009. 
 
She
added that the court had previously ruled Duch fell within its remit as
one of those “most responsible” for the regime’s crimes. “In
addition, Duch himself frequently acknowledged his responsibility for
crimes committed within the framework of S-21 as chief of the centre,”
Chea Leang said. 
 
Monday marked the start of Duch’s appeal
against his conviction of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His
sentence was reduced to 19 years for time already served and as
compensation for being held illegally prior to trial. 
 
The appeal was scheduled to last three days, with a verdict expected in June.
Defence lawyer Kar Savuth gave a rambling and repetitive address in
which he called for his client to be acquitted since he claimed the
court did not have jurisdiction over Duch and had erred in prosecuting
and convicting him. 
 
“And during the Khmer Rouge regime, there
was no law – the communist party line was used in its place,” he said.
“And if there was no law, then there was no crime.” Anne
Heindel, a legal advisor for DC-Cam, a genocide research organization
in Phnom Penh, said the defence’s tack was unconvincing. “They
keep making the same argument over and again that Duch does not fall
within the category of senior leaders and those most responsible,”
Heindel said. 
 
“I don’t really think that the judges will find any of
(those arguments) compelling.” She said it was likely that the
68-year-old defendant would end up with a longer sentence, something
the prosecution has sought. Duch is the first person the
international court has found guilty of crimes committed under the
Khmer Rouge regime, which ruled Cambodia between 1975-79. 
 
The
tribunal was established to try surviving senior leaders and those
considered “most responsible” for crimes committed by the ultra-Maoist
regime. 
 
Duch has been prosecuted in the latter category. Duch’s
nine-month trial in 2009 saw him mount a spectacular turnaround when in
its final days he reversed his “guilty but sorry” plea, and asked to be
acquitted and released. 
 
His appeal comes months ahead of the start of the second – and possibly final – case that the Khmer Rouge tribunal will hear. 
 
Four senior former Khmer Rouge leaders are set to face trial on charges
of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for their alleged
roles in the deaths of up to 2.2 million people from execution,
disease, starvation and overwork. 
 
All four deny the charges.
The four are: Nuon Chea, the movement’s ideologue; head of state Khieu
Samphan; foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith. The Khmer Rouge’s most senior leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998. 
 
Earth Times

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Categories: Khmer Rouge, Local News
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