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

VZCZCXRO1149
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0712 2650845
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220845Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1204
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000712

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 20

REF: PHNOM PENH 682 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 20th
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.

Acceptance of Guilt, Reconciliation, and Final Testimony
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) Civil parties ended their boycott and returned to the court
this week along with hundreds of others to see Duch take the stand
one final time for questioning. Expert witnesses also testified
about Democratic Kampuchea and the importance of accepting guilt
before an international criminal tribunal and its positive effect on
national reconciliation. This week's defense witness testimony
marked the end of the evidence phase in the Duch trial, which
commenced on March 30, 2009. Since that time, the trial chamber has
heard the testimony of nine expert witnesses, seventeen fact
witnesses, seven character witnesses, and twenty-two civil parties.
An average of 330 people observed the trial each day for a total of
23,742 visitors. Closing arguments will be heard on November 23 and
are estimated to last for three days.

3. (SBU) Herewith are observation notes for the week beginning
September 14, 2009:

September 14, 2009: The audience consisted of approximately 500
villagers from different provinces, 100 law school students, and 100
international observers. The law students in particular were
impressed by the professionalism of the court compared to Cambodia's
current national judicial system.

The tribunal heard the testimony of Richard Goldstone, an expert on
international justice and human rights, via video conference from
the U.S. Mr. Goldstone stated that an acceptance of responsibility
on behalf of the accused is important because it can often serve the
interests of victims and of society by bringing closure and
establishing the historical truth. In the afternoon, Raoul Marc
Jennar testified about Democratic Kampuchea and asserted that Duch
was at the same time a perpetrator and a victim of the regime's
irrational paranoia. Civil parties were allowed 20 minutes for
cross and direct examination and together with the prosecution,
contended that Duch killed to keep power and not to avoid being
killed himself.

September 16, 2009: The audience was full in the morning, but
thinned out towards afternoon due to travel times from the
provinces.

Today marked the final day of questioning. Defense lawyers
questioned Duch about his character and focused on his apology to
victims, remorse for past "brutal acts," and acknowledgment of
guilt. Conversely, the prosecution sought to portray Duch as a
loyal, willing, and proud member of the Khmer Rouge up until his
arrest in 1999.

Duch often stated he did not understand the questions posed by the
prosecution, which once again highlighted issues with the quality of
translation. The defense also indicated that it had identified
inaccuracies in the translation of several confessions during the
trial, and objected to the prosecution's request to submit
additional such documents.

September 17, 2009: There were several hundred people in the viewing
gallery, with many spilling downstairs into the area with a live
television feed. Most of the audience traveled from the provinces
of Kampong Thom and Prey Veng. The audience was respectful, but
questioning whispers often escaped, such as "who was the big fish
behind these atrocities?" and "If we kill Duch in retaliation, we
still would not have our relatives back, so let the court decide."

The court adjourned after the morning session, which consisted of
additional requests for submissions of documents from the defense
and civil parties. It will reconvene for closing arguments on
November 23.

RODLEY

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