News / Asia

Defense Calls For Acquittal of Khmer Rouge War Criminal

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, center, who ran the notorious Toul Sleng, a top secret detention center for the worst "enemies" of the state, looks on during his appealing at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 2
Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, center, who ran the notorious Toul Sleng, a top secret detention center for the worst "enemies" of the state, looks on during his appealing at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 2
Robert Carmichael

Defense lawyers for Comrade Duch, the former head of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, have asked the UN-backed war crimes tribunal to repeal his prison sentence.

Comrade Duch, the Khmer Rouge’s former chief jailer, appeared at the war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh Monday seeking his acquittal.

Last year, the United Nations-backed tribunal sentenced Duch to 35 years in prison after ruling he was responsible for the deaths of more than 12,000 detainees at S-21 prison, which heheaded between 1976 and 1979.

The sentence was reduced to 19 years because of time served and other factors.

The Khmer Rouge used the S-21 prison to detain and torture thousands of perceived enemies of the revolution, before executing them.

But on Monday Duch’s lawyers told the court their client should be set free since he was not a senior member of the Khmer Rouge movement, and had merely been following orders.

The defense’s appeal centered on its argument that the court lacked the jurisdiction to try Duch. But the one-hour speech delivered by Duch’s lead lawyer was rambling and repetitive, and ultimately unconvincing.

Anne Heindel, a legal advisor with the genocide research organization DC-Cam, was present at Monday’s hearing.

Heindel says she would not be surprised if Duch ends up getting a longer sentence on appeal, not least since the prosecution has a much stronger case.

"Based on what the prosecution says, because they’ve laid out a number of very compelling arguments,” Heindel said. “And based on what we’ve seen this morning I’d be surprised if the defense actually has any arguments to counter them."

The tribunal has a mandate to try senior surviving leaders and those considered most responsible for crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge movement’s rule of Cambodia.

The prosecution says that means there are two categories of potential defendants - senior leaders and those most responsible.

But the defense says there is just one category - senior leaders who are also most responsible. And since Duch was not a senior leader who devised policy, the court should not have tried him.

Legal experts do not consider that to be a strong argument, but it is a sign of how weak Duch’s position is.

Duch has admitted his role in the deaths of thousands of people.

The judges did ask the prosecution to justify the conclusion that there were two categories.

International prosecutor Andrew Cayley told the court that the United Nations and the government had agreed on that approach.

"The U.N. Group of Experts prior to the agreement in 1999 stated very clearly there were two types of individuals who should be prosecuted - namely senior leaders with responsibility over the abuses, as well as those at lower levels who are directly implicated in the most serious atrocities," said Cayley.

Cayley said legislation enacted by the Cambodian government subsequently confirmed the division of suspects into two categories.

Additionally, the prosecution said, Duch’s defense lawyers did not challenge the court’s jurisdiction until the close of the trial - which was far too late.

Duch’s appeal is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday and represents his last chance for release.

The court will deliver its verdict in June.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid