Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, will this week revisit S-21 prison and Choeung Ek killing fields in order to “further clarify” through his statements and conversations with witnesses what transpired there between the years of 1975 and 1979, officials said.
Helen Jarvis, public affairs chief at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, emphasized Friday that there would be no literal simulation of the alleged crimes that took place at both Khmer Rouge-era locations.
“They’re not acting out the crimes,” Jarvis said.
Duch, assisted by his lawyers, and witnesses from the period will go to the alleged crime scenes Tuesday and Wednesday. At S-21 and Choeung Ek, Duch and the witnesses will give accounts in their own words of what took place and participate in interviews with the ECCC’s co-investigating judges, Jarvis said.
Jarvis said she didn’t know whether the participants would visit the sites simultaneously or in shifts, but that tribunal judges would serve as a conduit for all conversation that takes place.
“It’s up to the judges whether the parties are taken together or separately,” she said, adding that the on-site investigation is a “routine” part of criminal procedure as practiced in Cambodia and in France.
According to an e-mailed statement from ECCC Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde, audio and visual props will be used during the walk-through of the sites, including photographs, tape recordings, and “3D reconstructions.” Additional information on what reconstructions would be used at the two sites was not available Friday.
“This is a normal investigative action, the aim of which is to clarify the declarations by each of the participants,” Lemonde said in his statement.
Jarvis said the hope is that a conversation in the presence of site-specific stimuli will achieve a deeper level of understanding of events than would otherwise be available.
The on-site visit will be closed to the public and reporters, and will be followed up by a “confrontation” interview between parties at the ECCC “allowing a written record to be made of everything said by them,” according to Lemonde.
The written records relating to the reconstruction will then be placed in the case file and made available as evidence at the tribunal, he added.
Duch, who has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role as chief of the S-21 prison where more than 14,000 people were tortured and later executed at Choeung Ek, was first arrested in May of 1999.
After being held in pretrial detention for eight years, he was detained by the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on July 31st.