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
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs