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Slow progress in Khmer Rouge court's Case 002

Slow progress in Khmer Rouge court's Case 002

With 78 days of hearings under its belt, Case 002 has already surpassed the total time spent hearing evidence in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s landmark first case, against former S-21 chairman Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch.

During the 72 days of hearings in the case against Duch, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in February this year by the tribunal’s Supreme Court Chamber, a total of 33 expert, fact and character witnesses and 22 civil parties were heard.

But progress has not been as swift in the exceedingly complex Case 002 proceedings against three surviving elderly leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Over 78 days of hearings, a total of only 18 witnesses, experts and civil parties combined have delivered testimony to the Trial Chamber judges.

The only two experts called thus far have been Youk Chhang and Vanthan Poeu Dara, from the Documentation Center of Cambodia, who were quizzed in particular by defence teams about the centre’s documentation procedures.

Likewise, only two civil parties have so far taken the stand at the United Nations-backed tribunal.

Cambodian lead civil party co-lawyer Pich Ang said it was up to the judges which of the 3,865 civil parties admitted in Case 002 they would hear in the courtroom.

Ang also said it was a “matter of concern” that the advanced age and poor health of many of the civil parties may mean that many of them will not live to see the verdict ultimately handed down against the three men on trial.

Tribunal press officer Neth Pheaktra said a total of 43,626 people had attended the trial hearings in Case 002, compared with 31,000 participants during the trial of Duch.

“Bringing people from the provinces to attend the court hearings on study tours is part of the ECCC’s efforts to provide Cambodian people with the opportunity to be part of the justice process.

“The court was designed for Cambodians – to witness it, to experience it, and to participate in it, directly and indirectly,” Pheaktra said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]