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Survivor blasts KRT

Survivor blasts KRT

Acclaimed artist and Khmer Rouge survivor Vann Nath has slammed the repeated delays

and spiralling costs at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)

and said he has no faith in its eventual outcome.

Speaking at the opening of an exhibition of his paintings, Nath said for victims

of the brutal Pol Pot regime, justice is long overdue.

"I have completely lost hope with the ECCC because it's been 30 years. Many

people who survived and waited to see justice are rapidly dying," Nath said.

"It is better not to wait any more, the problems [at the court] are happening

again and again. I don't think the court will provide justice."

Nath suffers from kidney disease that requires $1,000 each month for dialysis. He

underwent a $10,000 operation for tuberculosis in his spine earlier this year. Mounting

medical costs have rendered him dependent on donations.

Initially optimistic about the ECCC, Nath blasted the proceeding's $56 million price


"They have done nothing and now they have announced a lack of budget for proceedings.

More than $50 million from the UN and the government is a huge amount, but the money

is for the people working at the KRT only," he said. "The amount earned

by a teacher over a decade would still not equal that paid to foreign prosecutors.

If they run out of money they'll just close the door and return back to their own


But ECCC press spokesman Reach Sambath, who attended the opening, defended the court

and expressed confidence that justice would be done.

"We understand his concerns and we, the court, will try to resolve them. We

are still optimistic the process can work," said Sambath.

Sambath said that at the end of the year the Cambodian government and the United

Nations would appeal for more members to contribute to the ECCC's budget.

Nath, 62, is one of only seven people who survived the infamous Tuol Sleng prison,

where an estimated 14,000 men, women and children were interrogated and executed

during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. He said the Khmer Rouge trials were vital for

new generations of Cambodians to better understand the torment their forebears had

to endure.

"More than 2 million people were killed at the time, among those more than 20,000

from S-21. I think those people did not commit any crime which led to their death,"

he said. "They killed people without any investigation or trial."

Vann Nath survived the horrific conditions at Tuol Sleng only because he was forced

to sculpt and paint images of Khmer Rouge officials. His 1998 memoir A Cambodia Prison

Portrait: One Year in Khmer Rouge's S-21 Prison, is the only written account by a

survivor of the notorious interrogation centre.

Human Rights Watch senior researcher Sara Colm described Nath as an outspoken advocate

for victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, and agreed the ECCC process was not moving

fast enough.

"There have been many problems with the [ECCC]...whether there is the political

will by the Cambodian government as well as by the international community."

She said the delay in having perpetrators brought to justice was "more than

disappointing" for victims of the regime.


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