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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duch and Ta Mok face charges under 'Anti-KR' law

Duch and Ta Mok face charges under 'Anti-KR' law

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duch.jpg

F ORMER Tuol Sleng boss, Duch, who was arrested in Phnom Penh May 10, has been charged

under 1994 legislation which outlawed membership of the Khmer Rouge and its activities.

Soldiers guard the entrance to the military compound where Duch is currently being held.

Duch and Ta Mok f

It is a move that a Government source close to the investigation said was undertaken

so that Duch could be detained in prison, and would not necessarily be the actual

charges he faced in court.

Chairman of the Military Court, Ney Thol, said that Duch was facing charges under

sections two, three and four of the "outlawing the 'Democratic Kampuchea' group"

law. These are the same sections that Ta Mok has been charged under.

Section two makes membership in the Khmer Rouge illegal, section three deals with

crimes committed while undertaking Khmer Rouge activities and section four relates

to secession, destroying the Royal Government, destroying public bodies and coercing

citizens to take up arms against public authority.

Section four carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Thol admitted the court lacked the legal expertise to deal with some aspects of the

case and said they were now looking for outside help.

The Government source said that there was a lot of confusion over how to deal with

Duch.

But he said it was likely Duch would eventually be tried in connection with his activities

in Tuol Sleng.

As head of Tuol Sleng or S-21 detention center Duch, whose real name is Kiang Khek

Iev, oversaw the torture and execution of more than 14,000 people.

In the last issue of the Post an interview with Duch revealed he was now a born-again

Christian and was prepared to own up to his actions and stand trial.

He also implicated other former Khmer Rouge leaders in the mass killings of the Democratic

Kampuchea regime.

As news of his whereabouts surfaced Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Duch be put under

official protection so that he could provide information for trials of other KR leaders.

However, protection became detention this week when he was arrested.

He is now being held in the Military Court's detention centre in Tuol Sleng along

with Ta Mok.

Thol said that both men would be protected and looked after while in prison and hit

back at "public criticism" by people who said the men were being treated

too well.

"Our country is a country of law," he said.

"We cannot cut off their heads in revenge following our anger.

"I myself used to taste that taste.

"But let it be processed in a court case."

The current charges against Duch even as a holding measure appear flimsy. Duch officially

defected to the Government in 1993 prior to the anti-KR law's enaction which seems

to exclude him from its provisions.

And already the temporary charges have drawn criticism.

The head of the Cambodian Documentation Center, Youk Chhang, said that there was

enough evidence to mount a proper case against Duch and the military court should

not be coming up with interim measures.

Meanwhile, the case against Ta Mok is mounting with the arrival this week of seven

witnesses from Anlong Veng - among them Ta Mok's former assistant and economics advisor

Non Nou and military commander Khem Ngun.

Five other witnesses are understood to be in Pailin and are due to be summonsed.

Ney Thol said that the Anlong Veng witnesses had been invited to Phnom Penh to "clarify"

aspects of Ta Mok's "confession" of his previous activities.

He said so far the witnesses had been very helpful particularly as they still had

the notes they took on Mok's activities when he was in charge.

"Those people were happy to tell us," he said.

"They are very cooperative."

However he refused to say what evidence the witnesses had provided other than to

comment: "It was a good result."

The witnesses from Pailin are also likely to be happy to provide information on Mok.

One potential Pailin witness spoken to by the Post described Duch as "poisonous"

and said he was generally hated in the area.

But he said it was not for Duch's role in killing thousands of Khmers during the

DK regime that he was unpopular but rather for "running away" in 1993 and

abandoning his comrades in Pailin during a Government offensive.

There seemed to be little concern in Pailin about the trial of Ta Mok or Duch's revelations

about former KR leaders, particularly Nuon Chea, who Duch said ordered many of the

killings, including those of children.

However, a Pailin official said there was a strong feeling against putting Pailin

residents Nuon Chea or Khieu Samphan on trial.

He said it would cause a lot of trouble in the semi-autonomous region even though

there was a strong case against the men.

"The people of Pailin love justice, but they love peace more," he said.

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are living near the Thai border away from Pailin township.

They are reportedly surrounded by armed guards.

A human rights worker in the area said that Khieu Samphan had been seen in town reasonably

regularly but Nuon Chea never ventured out.

Meanwhile, a former employer of Duch's said Duch told him he left Pailin for Samlot

in 1993 because he was unhappy with his treatment by senior former KR leaders.

Kun Choeut, director of Battambang's education department, gave Duch a job in Samlot

last year. At that time he was going by the name Hong Pin.

He said Duch had come to his house shortly after he had started working unofficially

for the education authorities and confessed his past.

"He told me the truth about what he had done before and he was very sorry in

his mind that they had ordered him to do those things," he said.

Asked why Duch had decided to come clean and confess his past, Choeut replied: "He

was very angry against the Khmer Rouge leaders, that they had kicked him out, not

given him any power, any job to do. He was very disappointed about what he had been

doing.

"He asked me to keep his story secret and said one day he would go to the top

people and tell them his story. I remember his words: he said one day, he would go

and report what had happened."

Choeut, who lost family members during the DK regime, some killed in front of him,

said he had mixed reactions when Duch told him who he was

"At first I felt I hated him and what he represented but I also felt sorry for

him," he said.

"He had been ordered to do the job.

"It was not his fault."

Choeut defended his decision not to tell the education authorities in Phnom Penh

about Duch, noting that many people living in the former Khmer Rouge zones were now

government employees.

"Right now, they come to defect and to live under the same government,"

he said.

"Many of them had blood on their hands.

"In Pailin, many former Khmer Rouge are city governors and do important jobs.

"Ieng Sary is a big man, and there is no problem for him. Mr Hong Pin, he's

a little person, so why cause problems?

"I don't think he is a really bad person; he's OK; he's honest."

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