Sunday, November 22, 2009

Duch trial brings justice?


PHNOM PENH - THE trial helped them confront their Khmer Rouge jailer, but as final arguments take place this week at Cambodia's war crimes court, survivors of Tuol Sleng prison are unsure it will bring justice.

Since proceedings began in February against the former prison chief Duch, he has repeatedly expressed 'regret and heartfelt sorrow' for overseeing the torture and execution of some 15,000 people during the late 1970s regime.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, also apologised directly in court to the few inmates whose lives he spared. But those survivors told AFP they remain anxious about the result in the UN-backed tribunal's first case.

'I cannot say we have succeeded emotionally yet,' said Vann Nath, whose life was spared when he was put to work painting portraits of regime leader Pol Pot. 'I am waiting to see what level of justice the court will render to us,' said the 65-year-old renowned artist.

Duch, 67, was arrested a decade ago when he was discovered working at a Christian aid agency in western Cambodia. He has said he would accept stoning as punishment. But the maximum sentence that can be imposed is life in prison.

Under the court, which is using both international and national law, Duch has not entered a formal plea on specific charges. The court will rule early next year which charges he is guilty of and sentence him, for example war crimes or crimes against humanity. -- AFP

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