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Cablegate: Khmer Rouge Tribunal: The Trial of S-21

VZCZCXRO9974
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0682 2510213
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080213Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1174
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000682

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL, S/WCI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KJUS PREL EAID CB
SUBJECT: Khmer Rouge Tribunal: The Trial of S-21
Interrogation Center Head Kaing Guek Eav, Week 19

REF: PHNOM PENH 646 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Embassy staff routinely observes the proceedings
of the trial against the notorious Khmer Rouge (KR) torture center
head, widely known as Duch, at the Extraordinary Chambers in the
Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) (Reftel). This report summarizes the 19th
week of activities inside the court at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
More technical accounts of the proceedings can be found at:
www.csdcambodia.org; www.kidcambodia.org and at
http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~warcrime/. END SUMMARY.

Duch Humanized, Civil Parties Protest, and Additional Investigations
Allowed
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. (SBU) Character witness testimony was overshadowed on week 19 by
a September 2 decision from the pre-trial chamber which effectively
paves the way for the ECCC to proceed with additional criminal
investigations against former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The
investigation of further suspects has been a contentious issue in
and out of the court, with the national and international
co-prosecutors at odds on how to best fulfill the mandate of the
ECCC. The week's proceedings highlighted additional controversies
within the court, as civil parties boycotted and their lawyers were
barred from questioning character witnesses. When the civil party
lawyers raised repeated objections, the tribunal disconnected their
microphones and prohibited them from intervening during the
remainder of character witness testimonies. Translation from French
was problematic for witnesses, who generally painted a rosy picture
of Duch as a fellow student, teacher, and colleague during the
period before and after the Khmer Rouge.

3. (SBU) Herewith are observation notes for the week beginning
August 31, 2009:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009: The audience was only approximately
half-full and mainly consisted of Cambodian males. Towards the end
of the afternoon, only a handful of observers remained.

Duch Humanized
--------------

The tribunal heard the final testimony of two psychologists who
presented a summary of their assessment of Duch. The international
defense council focused on the experts' suggestion that Duch could
be rehabilitated, and recalled their statements that "a person is
not born an executioner, but that one becomes an executioner." The
experts then stated that Duch could be made "human" again and could
be integrated into society. Four character witnesses who knew Duch
when he was a student and teacher testified for the remainder of the
day. The four universally stated that Duch was a good, humble, hard
working and gentle person. One of the witnesses asked and received
permission to visit with Duch after the day's proceedings.

Civil Party Discontent
----------------------

There were several interruptions throughout the day, with judges
consulting three to four times on different issues. Civil parties
continued their boycott of the proceedings, an act which stemmed
from last week's decision by the tribunal to not allow civil parties
to question remaining witnesses regarding the character of the
accused (Reftel). Of the civil legal teams, only three were
present. Lawyers for the civil parties repeatedly asked the court
to explain to new witnesses why the civil parties were not allowed
to ask questions, and why the civil parties were not in the
courtroom. After the third or fourth such request, the tribunal
became upset and stated that the civil party lawyers would no longer
be heard during the proceedings and summarily disconnected the civil
party lawyers' microphones.

The translation of the defense council's questions, originally in
French, appeared to be problematic. On multiple occasions the
witnesses did not answer the questions asked, but answered on a
separate subject altogether.

RODLEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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