Tribunal Calls Nearly 40 Witnesses in Duch Trial

The Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday summoned nearly 40 witnesses to the trial of former S-21 chairman Kaing Guek Eav, including authors Nic Dunlop, Nayan Chanda and David Chandler, as well as French psychiatrist Fran­çoise Sironi.

Concluding an initial hearing, the Trial Chamber also postponed decisions on whether to summon nearly 20 more proposed witnesses, including prosecution witness Craig Etcheson, a historian and currently an analyst for the prosecution, as well as de­fense witnesses Richard Gold­stone, the first prosecutor ap­pointed to the International Tri­bunal for the former Yugo­slavia, and Belgian political scientist Raoul Marc Jennar, currently a con­sultant to the defense.

Cambodian defense lawyer Kar Savuth continued his team’s attack on the proposed inclusion of new evidence and testimony and went as far as to cast doubt on the authenticity of Vietnamese archival footage that prosecutors in January asked to enter into evidence.

“The reason we cannot accept the film footage is because this film footage has been produced by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” said Kar Savuth, adding that he suspected that the recordings had been “politically motivated.”

He also said he doubted that children seen in the films had in fact survived S-21.

“Why only the children were seen in the film? We were told there were no children left at S-21. They were all executed,” he said, drawing dismayed reactions from the public gallery. “When the children had not eaten for seven days and nights, how could they survive? If they could not survive, why did they appear in the film?”

French defense lawyer François Roux also objected to civil party proposals to call witnesses to testify about sentencing, which Roux said amounted to allowing victims to seek “vengeance.”

“Let us not confuse the role of the civil party and the prosecutors,” said Roux. “To give this right to a civil party would be a terrible regression…of our system of law.”

Civil Party lawyer Karim Khan said witness testimony did not amount to vengeance.

“Simply allowing evidence to be called does not do injustice to any party, in my submission,” he said. “The civil parties that we represent in Civil Party Group 1 do not want vengeance, they do not want blood.”

Over defense objections, the court also decided to summon three unidentified prosecution witnesses to testify about the Khmer Rouge detention camp M-13, a precursor to S-21 that Duch ran in Kompong Speu’s Thphong district from 1971 to 1975 and where thousands of prisoners were killed.

The court refused to call a witness who civil parties had proposed could testify about sex crimes committed at S-21, saying it was unclear that the woman in question had in fact been detained at S-21 or that her whereabouts were actually known.

Two other proposed civil party witnesses were also rejected on the grounds that they would testify to facts that are not contested by the defense.

The chamber is expected to begin a “substantive hearing” on the evidence against Duch next month, though no date has been set.

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