As verdict nears, a prison for Duch is still a question undecided

The Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday is set to hand down a verdict for former secret police chairman Kaing Guek Eav, accused in the deaths of 14,000 people, but authorities have yet to decide where he will serve out any prison sentence he may receive, tribunal legal affairs spokesman Lars Olsen said yesterday.

“In case of conviction, for the time being he will continue to serve at the ECCC detention facility,” Mr Olsen said, referring to the government-run holding cells at the court.

“The co-prosecutors and the ECCC are in dialogue with the Cambodian authorities with regards to finding a permanent place to serve sentences for anyone convicted by the ECCC,” he said.

Duch faces a maximum life sentence for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and homicide. Mr Olsen said that Duch would be treated like any other prisoner in the Cambodian penal system if he is convicted.

“In case of conviction, after he would be transferred to a Cambodian prison, [and] he would be just as any other Cambodian prisoner,” Mr Olsen said. “So it would be the responsibility of the Cambodian authorities.”

“The ECCC detention facility is already under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior,” he said. “It’s the Cambodian government who actually covers the cost of the ECCC detention facility. The only thing the ECCC is covering at the detention facility is the food.”

Asked how the government will ensure the safety of the Khmer Rouge regime’s former prison chief if he is sentenced to jail time, Heng Hak, director-general for the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, said the government first needed to decide where Duch might be sent.

“We need a policy first, and we will guarantee the safety later,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Phorn Bopha)


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