Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Don’t try just Duch: witness

Don’t try just Duch: witness

Don’t try just Duch: witness

Defence witness says directors of other prisons should face war crimes charges.

AN expert witness told Cambodia’s war crimes court Monday that the directors of other Khmer Rouge-era detention facilities that claimed more lives than the notorious Tuol Sleng prison were still alive and suggested they be prosecuted for war crimes.

“There were nine centres where there were more victims than [Tuol Sleng], and from those centres no one is before this court,” said Raoul Marc Jennar, a Belgian academic who testified at the request of defence lawyers for former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch.
“My concept of justice is not to have scapegoats. It’s to treat everyone the same way,” Jennar said.

He said some of the directors were still alive and “living peacefully”, though he declined to identify them, saying only: “It is known, but please don’t ask me to name names.”

When questioned on his sources, he cited research from the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), though he said he was not able to point to specific documents.

There were nine centres where there were more victims thaN [tuol sleng].

DC-Cam Director Youk Chhang said Monday evening that he agreed with Jennar’s statements.
“It is true. The prison conditions were horrible, but the stories of such prisons are hardly heard,” he said.

Jennar also said that, contrary to claims made by prosecutors, there was no reason to believe Tuol Sleng was “at the top of a hierarchy” in the regime’s security system.

He also said Duch would have been killed had he disobeyed the orders of top regime leaders. Though he said he did not believe Duch was innocent, he asked: “Who can in good conscience when faced with the dilemma of having to kill in order to avoid being killed assert and affirm that he will make the ultimate sacrifice?”

The tribunal also heard Monday from Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor at international courts for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, who said Duch’s admission of guilt could discourage “fabricated denials” of Khmer Rouge crimes and prompt more cadres to confess.