Victims Given Two Weeks To Join S-21 Trial

Nine years, nine months and eight days after his arrest, former S-21 prison chairman Kaing Guek Eav will at last stand trial on Feb 17, the Khmer Rouge tribunal ordered Monday.

In setting the date of an initial hearing—during which the court is to summon witnesses and hear any preliminary objections from the de­fense—Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn gave the alleged victims the S-21 chief’s trial, and more than 70 applications are still being pro­cessed, said Keat Bophal, chief of the court’s victims unit.

Civil party lawyer Silke Studzin­sky said Monday that the court should allow victims to be accepted as parties even after the trial has begun.

“If you look at the number of civil party applicants and those who were recognized, and compare it with the number of persons killed at Tuol Sleng, I am sure that there are people who will not be reach­ed,” she said. “A lot of ex-prisoners or killed people had at least one relative.”

“I am of the opinion that it isn’t a disturbance or a distraction of the proceedings if, for example, during the trial someone submits an application form. I don’t see the problem,” Stud­zinsky added.

Tribunal Pub­lic Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said on Mon­day the court is urging any potential victims to come forward no later than 4 pm on Monday, Feb 2.

Jarvis said Monday that the court was beginning a targeted publicity “blitz” of radio, television and newspaper announcements to make po­tential victims aware of their trial rights ahead of the deadline.

“Of course, we want to give the opportunity to everyone who is eligible to file,” she said, adding that the victims who are not parties would still see justice done. “They should understand that the case is going forward. No one is going to lose if they don’t file,” Jarvis added.

On Monday, Duch’s French de­fense attorney, Francois Roux, said the Duch team was eager to proceed, but declined to discuss ahead of the trial whether the defense would present any objections to the court.

“The defense has been ready for a long time,” he said.

In December 2007, the tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber ruled it did not have jurisdiction to address Duch’s nine-year pretrial detention, among the longest of any war crimes suspect. Citing the detention, defense lawyers had been seeking Duch’s pretrial release and Roux at the time vowed to raise the matter again.

The tribunal has so far received a total of 2,856 victim complaints for both of its current cases, S-21 and a nationwide investigation of crimes committed during Democratic Kampuchea, of which 40 percent are from people seeking to become civil parties.

Keat Bophal also said Monday that people wishing to become parties to the trial may call the unit’s tel­ephone helpline at 023-214-291 or come to its central Phnom Penh of­fice at 6A Street 21 in Tonle Bassac commune, Chamkar Mon district.

 

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