PROSECUTORS at the Khmer Rouge tribunal will appeal the jail sentence handed down last month against Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, joining the chorus of victims who have charged that his 30-year term is unacceptably short.
In a statement released yesterday, the co-prosecutors said the judgment against the accused, better known as Duch, “gives insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch’s crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes”. Mitigating circumstances, such as Duch’s expressions of remorse and cooperation with the court, were weighed unduly heavily in the sentence, the prosecutors added.
“The Co-Prosecutors submit that the sentence imposed on Duch is arbitrary and manifestly inadequate and fell outside the range of sentences available to the Trial Chamber in the circumstances,” the appeal notice read.
International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley asked for patience on the part of victims upset with the brevity of Duch’s sentence. Prosecutors requested that Duch be given a 40-year jail term during closing arguments in November.
“They need to have confidence in the court, that everybody here is trying to get to a just result in all of these cases,” Cayley said. “We are listening to them and we are doing everything we can within the limits of the law to express their desires before the court.”
Under court rules, the prosecutors now have an additional 60 days to formally file their appeal.
79-year-old Chum Mey, a civil party in Case 001 and one of the few survivors of Tuol Sleng prison, said he was thankful that the prosecutors were pursuing a lengthier jail term for Duch. With credit for time served, the Khmer Rouge jailer stands to spend just 19 more years in prison, and could walk free if he survives to age 86.
“I applaud the prosecutors for filing an appeal on behalf of the victims,” Chum Mey said. “19 more years in jail for Duch cannot be accepted.”
Door open to civil parties
Because the prosecutors have appealed the judgment, court rules state that the 90 civil parties who participated for the duration of Duch’s trial can now appeal the court’s decision on reparations. The judges granted requests from the accepted civil parties to have their names included in the final judgment and for the court to compile and publish all statements of apology made by Duch at his trial. Other requests, such as calls for a memorial stupa or monetary awards, were rejected because they either lacked specificity or were beyond the scope of possible reparation options available to the court.
“We are still in the process of examining the judgment [and] if there are grounds for appeal against the reparation order,” said Silke Studzinsky, one of a number of civil party lawyers who said following the verdict that they would consider such an appeal.
Duch’s attorneys have also said that they plan to appeal, though they have yet to formally file an appeal notice. Defence lawyer Kang Ritheary said yesterday that his team planned to make this filing “soon”, and would argue that Duch was not one of the “senior” Khmer Rouge leaders to whom the court’s mandate is limited.
Cayley said he expected that the appeal hearings, to be held before the Supreme Court Chamber, would be open to the public.