ECCC To Rule on Duch Indictment in Dec

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia will an­nounce Dec 5 the final charges against Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch—a move that will likely clear the way for the first-ever trial to be conducted by the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

On August 8, the court’s co-investigating judges charged Duch with “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes” for his role as di­rector of the Khmer Rouge detention center S-21, where more than 12,000 Cambodian were tortured before execution. The co-prosecutors, however, asked the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber on Sept 5 for the indictment against Duch to in­clude charges for violating Cam­bodian law against torture and homicide in order to “reflect Duch’s complete criminal conduct,” and to use “joint criminal enterprise” as a form of liability.

Whether the court will do so is slated to be announced by the Pre-Trial Chamber on Dec 5, said ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis.

It’s unclear how soon after the Dec 5 decision that a trial date will be set, Jarvis said Friday.

Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit agreed: “I don’t know [when the date will be]. Neither does anybody. We’ll have to see if there is a scheduling order, and at what time that is. Obviously everyone is expecting to get on with the process as soon as possible…. We’ll be ready for trial whenever the Trial Chamber convenes it.”

Prior to the prosecutors’ appeal of the indictment, many believed Duch’s trial might have begun as early as last month, but with the appeal decision now coming in December, the trial might not happen until next year, said tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath.

Latt Ky, project coordinator for Adhoc’s Khmer Rouge tribunal and International Criminal Court program, said the possibility of the trial occurring in 2009 could be problematic for a number of reasons, including the court’s funding limitations and the age and deteriorating health of the defendants.

“What will the people who are waiting for justice think about the delays?” he said.

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