Defense Objections Delay Duch, Nuon Chea ‘Confrontation’

Khmer Rouge tribunal investigators Wednesday postponed a “confrontation” that was to occur be­tween former S-21 Chairman Kaing Guek Eav and Brother No 2 Nuon Chea after lawyers for the latter said they were not ready to proceed.

The confrontation would have been the first occasion in court for Nuon Chea to contradict statements by Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, which have been held in evidence against Nuon Chea and used to justify his detention.

Indicted in August for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a case stemming from crimes committed at the S-21 detention center, Duch is now also under investigation in a second case file along with Nuon Chea and the court’s four other Khmer Rouge detainees. Khmer Rouge tribunal judges have more than once cited statements by Duch, 66, who accuses Nuon Chea, 82, of ordering the killing of S-21 detainees and of awareness of the detention center’s operations.

In a March ruling upholding Nuon Chea’s detention, Duch was quoted as saying that in January, 1979, Nuon Chea had ordered that S-21 “smash all the victims” and that about 200 people were killed as a result.

Co-Investigating Judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng were not available for comment but Mi­chiel Pestman, a Dutch lawyer for Nuon Chea, said that the judges Tues­­day evening had adjourned the hearing indefinitely at the request of Nuon Chea’s defense.

Pestman said the judges had not sufficiently explained how the “confrontation” will work or whether the defense would be allowed to seek to discredit Duch as a witness.

“It would be important for us to know whether we are allowed to examine Duch. That was unclear,” Pestman said, adding that defense lawyers only gained access to the Duch case file last week. “Whether we can challenge the witness’s credibility or not was never made clear,” he said.


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