Tribunal rejects Khmer Rouge appeal

Tribunal judges rule former Khmer Rouge prison chief could try to flee country.

    Duch's lawyers had argued their client's eight years in jail without trial violated his human rights

    The former boss of the notorious S-21 torture and interrogation centre is awaiting trial on crimes against humanity, expected to begin next year

     

    Duch's defence lawyers had argued last week that he should be freed because his human rights had been violated by the more than eight years he has already been in jail without trial.

     

    But prosecutors said that Duch's release would pose a threat to public order in Cambodia, and he could attempt to escape justice by fleeing the country.

     

    They argued that he should remain behind bars for his own safety because he could be harmed both by "accomplices wishing to silence him and by the relatives of victims seeking revenge".

     

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    Duch's appeal was the first heard before a UN-backed tribunal for former Khmer Rouge members and had been seen as a key test of the court's credibility.

     

    Duch was initially arrested by the government in 1999.

     

    Last year he was handed over to the tribunal and charged with crimes against humanity.

     

    Duch is one of five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders currently in detention awaiting trial before the tribunal.

     

    During the Khmer Rouge's rule over Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 he ran its secret police as well as the notorious S-21 torture and interrogation centre.

     

    Some 17,000 people are thought to have passed through the centre, with only a handful surviving.

     

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    Among the five former officials awaiting trial Duch is the lowest ranking member of the former regime, but his role in charge of the S-21 interrogation centre, housed in a former Phnom Penh high school, has made him one of the most notorious.

     

    He has insisted he was simply following orders from the top to save his own life.

     

    "I was under other people's command, and I would have died if I disobeyed it," he told a government interrogator after his arrest.

     

    The first formal trials before the tribunal are expected to get under way early next year.

     

    Factfile: Kaing Guek Eav (Duch)

    Born in the early 1940s, Duch trained as a teacher before joining the Khmer Rouge

     

    During Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 and 1979 he headed the regime's Santebal secret police

     

    He also headed the notorious S-21 torture and interrogation centre in a former Phnom Penh high school

     

    Prosecutors say Duch's name appears on dozens of execution warrants

     

    Duch fled Phnom Penh when Vietnamese forces invaded in early 1979

     

    Living in a remote jungle hideout, he converted to Christianity in 1996

     

    In 1999 he was arrested and charged with murder, torture and membership of an outlawed group

     

    In 2007 Duch became the first suspect brought before the UN-backed tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge officials

     

     

     

    SOURCE: Agencies


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