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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deadline set for S-21 victims wanting to appear at Duch trial

Deadline set for S-21 victims wanting to appear at Duch trial

The KRT makes its final call for victims in the lead-up to Tuol Sleng prison chief Duch's trial

VICTIMS of the Khmer Rouge's notorious Tuol Sleng prison centre have until February 2 to register as civil parties to the trial of prison chief Duch, the court announced Wednesday.

"Any person who has suffered harm as a result of the commission of any of these crimes should submit to the Victims Unit their Civil Party Application before [this date]," said a statement from the court's Victims Unit.

As the trial's February 17 start date approaches, the court has begun a final round of media calls, "actively encouraging" victims to come forward to be recognised by the court.

"We are preparing announcements in the coming days for radio and newspapers," said the court's public affairs officer,  Helen Jarvis.

As of last month, 28 people had been officially recognised as civil parties for the upcoming trial, with 70 more applications being processed, Jarvis said Tuesday.

She also said that nearly 3,000 people had filed complaints against the five former regime leaders currently held by the court.  

According to the internal rules of the court, civil party applications need to be filed at least 10 days before the initial hearing, and any new applications need to be reviewed before the start of the trial.

Deadline approaching

Michelle Staggs Kelsall, deputy director of the Asian International Justice Initiative at the East-West Centre, a court monitoring group, said she was concerned that an overburdened Victims Unit could struggle to process applications in time for the trial.

"The question really is whether all existing applications at 10 days before trial will likely have been reviewed by the initial hearing," she said.

But despite signs that the Victims Unit is overstretched, lawyers for civil parties have expressed confidence the unit will be able to process submissions in time.

"I have good hope that those applications that are submitted within the deadline will be processed," Silke Studzinsky, international lawyer for civil parties said Wednesday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ROBBIE COREY-BOULET

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