Lawyers want portion of Tuol Sleng, Choeung Ek entrance fee set aside to pay reparations
Civil party lawyers at the trial of former S-21 Chairman Kaing Guek Eav were to argue today that the accused, who has admitted to overseeing as many as 14,000 murders, has lied in his protests of remorse and that his own words should be held against him.
All parties to the trial, which concluded hearing evidence in September after five months of witness testimony and oral argument, were to submit final written arguments today.
Civil party lawyers representing 90 of the alleged victims of Kaing Guek Eav, best known as Duch, will be the first to speak, delivering five hours of oral submissions when final arguments are heard during the week beginning Nov 23.
In their written arguments to be submitted today, lawyers for the 37 civil parties in group one, one of four civil party groups, sought to undo the entire scheme of argument advanced by the defense, who have sought leniency due to Duch’s expressions of remorse, his frank testimony and a supposed personal transformation.
Due to what one judge referred to as “superficial” vetting, some civil party accounts were openly challenged when they testified in August, giving rise to defense challenges against 24 people claiming to have directly suffered as a result of the alleged crimes.
In their pleading, the group one lawyers cited evidence supporting the claims of their 37 clients and listed the brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, uncles and nephews who were tortured and murdered at S-21.
The families of those killed have as a result “disintegrated” and sunk into alcoholism, suicide and listless grief and are “still in pain today,” according to a copy of the pleading shared with the media.
At trial, the tactical gambit of the defense was to reverse the direction of debate by acknowledging most of the prosecution’s case and thereby making each admitted allegation only a measure of how sorry Duch felt for what he did as chairman of S-21.
However, citing what they called inconsistencies in Duch’s testimony and evidence that he has been reluctant to admit the true nature of his role, the group one lawyers sought to hoist Duch on his own petard.
“Despite all the protestations of sorrow and remorse, the evidence discloses that, even at the close of the trial, the accused was still attempting to evade responsibility by shifting the burden of the healing process back to the civil parties,” the lawyers wrote.
At trial in June, Duch refused to take responsibility for the methods of cruelty that he devised and taught to his subordinates. That month, he was also “forced to admit he had been untruthful” when he denied asking his superiors for permission to arrest and kill suspected enemies.
“Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Duch continues to claim that his work at S-21 had no direct or causal effect on the increase in arrests made subsequent to the implementation of his interrogation and annotation system,” the lawyers wrote.
Unlike the defense portrait of a mid-level functionary who reluctantly accepted a job he performed only out of fear, the lawyers said Duch acted with autonomy to seek out victims and design an efficient killing machine as a devoted servant of the Khmer Rouge.
All civil party groups in September jointly called for reparations, including medical care, public education efforts and the construction of memorials.
In a separate pleading also to be filed today, lawyers for civil party group two, which includes 17 of Duch’s alleged victims, called on the tribunal to order Duch to ask the Cambodian government to set aside a third of revenues from ticket sales at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center to defray the cost of any victim reparations.
The remainder should be divided equally as a monetary award to the civil parties, the group two lawyers argued.