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Khmer Rouge trial U-turn an act of self-defeat

Dear Editor,
I have attended the last three days of the KR tribunal, and to that last day, I had felt compassion towards Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch. I believed that his remorse was genuine and desperately wanted to see the best in him.

However, every party of every opinion present at the ECCC was left utterly baffled by the last sentences spoken by Duch and his national lawyer.

Mr Francois Roux exhibited a truly graceful argument in his final statement, and, by asking for a reduced sentence, he was opting for the most realistic option available to Duch and one Duch would have most likely approved of – admitting responsibility but not abandoning the cause completely.

This way, Duch could still lean on his total cooperation throughout the trial while still standing by the fact that he had never denied he is not guilty. However, the shocking turn of events proved Duch’s intentions otherwise.

I believe a large portion of this perplexity is on the shoulders of Mr Kar Savuth. It was entirely unprofessional that he disregarded Mr Roux’s opinion, let alone his aforementioned sentence to chase his belated arguments.

It is hard to imagine an educated lawyer could assume these watery arguments would be enough for a full acquittal. It is in this regard that he has vastly disrespected Mr Roux, prosecuting parties, victims of the KR regime, national reconciliation and the reputation of this trial.

Why would Duch and his national lawyer ask for an acquittal when the judges will never realistically grant him one? Has Duch seriously tried so hard to gain the trust of the court to throw it all away on an acquittal that is obviously out of the question?

It would seem Duch and Mr Savuth are playing a losing game: By making this nonsensical request, they are turning the whole trial on its head, leaving a spectacular mess, which the judges will most likely regard as an aggravating factor to Duch’s sentence.

Hannah Sworn
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.



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