Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duch indicted




Duch indicted

charging the former torture chief with crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. " />

Duch indicted

Co-Investigating Judges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have issued their long-awaited closing order in the case of "Comrade Duch," charging the former torture chief with crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Duch (born Kaing Guek Eav) will be the first defendant brought to trial at the ECCC.

In a redacted version of the closing order, signed Aug. 8, the Co-Investigating Judges describe Duch's role as head of S21 detention and torture center. Though not a top Khmer Rouge leader, Duch is widely regarded as one of those "most responsible" for the crimes of Democratic Kampuchea.

According to the closing order: "While Duch was not a senior leader of Democratic Kampuchea, he may be considered in the category of most responsible for crimes and serious violations committed between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979, due both to his formal and effective hierarchical authority and his personal participation as Deputy Secretary and then Secretary of S21."

 

The evidence Co-Investigating Judges reviewed to make their decision about Duch's indictment came from 21 interviews the court conducted with the defendant, statements from numerous witnesses and various historical documents. Unlike the four other defendants in detention, Duch has spoken openly about his responsibility for Khmer Rouge atrocities.

He first spoke out in 1999 after he was discovered living under an alias in Battambang province.

Since then, he has "cooperated willingly in the judicial investigation, neither attempting to implicate anyone who was under his orders, nor placing the blame on the upper echelons of the party alone, in order to exonerate himself," according to the closing order.

Duch has expressed remorse to S21's victims as well as the staff who worked under him, saying they were "terrorized and constantly in fear for their lives."

He also claims he could not quit his post because he and his family would have been killed.

Still, the descriptions of Duch contained in the closing order are sometimes contradictory, and don't necessarily portray a man performing his heinous duties solely out of fear.

A major point of contention: While Duch consistently told Co-Investigating Judges he did not personally torture prisoners, various witnesses have testified to the contrary. Some said they saw Duch beat and electrocute prisoners.

And Duch has admitted to ordering torture, though he told the judges he was carrying out commands from higher-ups. It will be interesting to note how prominent a role the "just following orders" defense will play in Duch's upcoming trial.

* Pictured: Duch as a young man.

 

MOST VIEWED

  • ADB says Kingdom to lose 390,000 jobs

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts Cambodia will suffer 390,000 job losses this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it congratulated the government for its response to the crisis and its cash transfer programme for the poor and vulnerable. Last Wednesday, the ADB approved a $250

  • Fish with human-like teeth makes splash

    An image of a fish of the family Balistidae with human-like features made its rounds on social media after a Twitter user snapped a photo of his catch in Malaysia. The original post has received 675 comments, 8,200 retweets and more than 14,000 likes as of Tuesday. Astonishing

  • Gov’t not using EU aid for poor

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday refuted as “baseless”, claims that the government had used financial aid from the EU to implement the programme to identify and support poor and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic. The prime minister was responding to Roth Sothy, a

  • Royal Group inks $35 million road deal on Koh Rong

    Royal Group Koh Rong Development Company and Sinohydro Corporation Limited reached a $35 million deal on Tuesday to build a 70km road on Koh Rong Island. The road will be 8m wide and is expected to take 16 months to complete, according to the plan approved by

  • Thai fence said to prevent illegal crossing

    Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provincial police say Thailand is not invading Cambodia after a series of social media posts about fences being built on the border raised alarms. Banteay Meanchey police chief Ath Khem said on Tuesday the information on social media on Sunday and

  • Nine more students from Saudi Covid-19 positive

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said preventing the spread of Covid-19 depends on each citizen. He expressed concern that the pandemic will continue for longer. Hun Sen said this after nine Cambodian students who recently returned to the Kingdom from Saudi Arabia were found to be

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post