Among the usual crowd of monks, students and survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime present for the second day of opening statements at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday sat a group of about 70 national police officers.
Ranging from fresh-faced recruits to senior directors, the police sat in the public gallery as part of an exercise to teach them not only about the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge, but also about legal procedure from the actions at the tribunal, which the Royal Government has referred to as a “model court”.
“I only used to know the accused from documents,” 24-year-old police officer Un Piseth told the Post.
“This is the first time I have seen their faces, which look like the faces of common people, not killers like the prosecution says.”
Earlier this month, the Documentation Centre of Cambodia teamed with the National Police Authority in conducting genocide training for about 300 police officers.
Lessons From the Past
National Police deputy commissioner Lieutenant-General Sok Phal said at the time that the training was necessary to ensure that the police – Cambodia’s first line of defence – understood what created the conditions for genocide and how to stop it.
Sun Bunla, deputy director of the Cambodian Police Academic School, told the Post that visiting the tribunal was important for the legal education of police.
“From listening to the opening statement of the international prosecutor today, we can understand about crimes against humanity such as the persecution of the Cham and Vietnamese,” Sun Bunla said.
Cheang Sokha, a 37-year-old police official, said a lot of Cambodians still did not fully understand the proceedings at the tribunal.
“I have learned so much even in just one day of attending,” Cheang Sokha said.
“And with international judges and prosecutors working with the national ones, I believe they will find justice for the victims.”