Tribunal needs final list of witnesses | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 19, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 19, 2009

Khmer Rouge War Crime

Tribunal needs final list of witnesses

A long-delayed Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal wrapped up its opening session yesterday with judges saying they still need to finalise a list of witnesses before announcing when a full trial of the former head of the regime's notorious torture centre will begin.
Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Duch -- is charged with crimes against humanity. He is the first of five defendants from the close-knit, ultra-communist regime that ruled Cambodia in the 1970s and turned it into a vast slave labor camp in which an estimated 1.7 million people perished.
Three decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the U.N.-assisted tribunal began a procedural session Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a full trial expected in March. The precise date has not been set and details still need to be ironed out, including who will testify.
Judge Silvia Cartwright, a former New Zealand High Court judge, told the court that the tribunal's five judges met Wednesday in private to pare down the lists of proposed witnesses to "consider whether the testimony would be redundant or repetitious."
She said judges had agreed on about 30 of the witnesses proposed by lawyers for the prosecution, defense and civil parties. They dropped a handful of witnesses and postponed a decision on about 20 others. She did not say when a decision would be made.
Among those who are to be summoned to testify are British journalist Nic Dunlop, who discovered Duch in northwestern Cambodia in 1999. An American scholar, David Chandler, the author of several books on Cambodia, will also be asked to testify, the court said.
Duch oversaw the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh - previously a school, now the Tuol Sleng genocide museum - where some 16,000 men, women and children were detained and tortured. Only a handful survived.
Duch, 66, is the only defendant who has expressed remorse for his actions. He is accused of committing or abetting a range of crimes including murder, torture and rape. He did not address the court Tuesday but through his lawyer he again voiced regret.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Duch disappeared for two decades, living under two other names and converting to Christianity before he was located by Dunlop, the British journalist.
Judges also still need to decide whether to admit as evidence a short film shot by Vietnamese soldiers when they entered Tuol Sleng prison in January 1979 after toppling the Khmer Rouge.

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