Barred as Party, S-21 Survivor Wants To Testify

Norng Chanphal, who survived internment at the Tuol Sleng Khmer Rouge prison as a child with his family, asked this week that he be called as a witness after being denied recognition as a victim in the trial of former S-21 Chairman Kaing Guek Eav.

“I have no other choice because I was two days late” in applying, he said Thursday.

To be parties to the S-21 trial, victims had to apply to the tribunal no later than Feb 2. The tribunal last week ruled that there was no reason to extend that deadline for Norng Chanphal, despite his remarkable circumstances-Viet­namese forces’ film of his rescue only days after the Khmer Rouge retreat from Phnom Penh in 1979 has been admitted into evidence for the trial.

Commenting on his exclusion as a victim, Norng Chanphal, 39, said he felt the court had assigned him to an inferior role at trial.

“The victim has not been a priority, rather the killer,” he said, adding that he had wanted to challenge Duch in court as a party.

In a March 10 ruling, Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn found that Norng Chanphal had no valid reason for failing to make the tribunal’s deadline, which is stricter than that of other Cambodian courts due to the high number of victims seeking redress for Khmer Rouge crimes.

“The chamber notes that the civil party lawyers representing Mr Chanphal have not provided the chamber with any information to suggest that exceptional circumstances prevented him from filing his application within the prescribed deadline,” the ruling stated.

“The chamber reserves the right to decide whether or not to call Mr Norng Chanphal as a witness at a later date,” it added.

Civil party lawyer Alain Werner said Thursday that he and other lawyers for civil party Group 1, which represents 38 of the victims who joined to the S-21 trial, filed a motion on Wednesday asking that the court summon Norng Chan­phal as a witness.

“We want one way or another that the court should hear his testimony,” Werner said. “His testimony is completely unique among the facts which are to be related,” he added.

 

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