Duch’s trial: black day for victims’ participation

By Stéphanie Gée

The role of civil parties is one of the main issues at stake in Duch’s trial, which enshrines their first participation in a jurisdiction with international support established to judge crimes against humanity. However, this characteristic of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – often presented as an important progress – was severely curbed on Thursday August 27th,
Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 27/08/2009: The hands of François Roux, Alain Werner, Ty Srinna, Nil Nonn, Jean-Marc Lavergne, Hong Kim Suon, Vincent de Wilde and Kar Savuth during the debate on the admission of civil parties on Day 66 in Duch’s trial at the ECCC 
(Photo: John Vink/ Magnum)
following a debate abruptly opened by the Trial Chamber and which it quickly ruled on by taking a brutal decision that partially closes the victims’ participation to the trial. The Chamber’s move occurred ten days before the plenary session – when judges revise and amend, if necessary, the directions and Internal Rules – and may hint at the possible adoption then of potentially critical changes regarding the place of victims in the next trials before the ECCC. Often criticised for failing to measure up to their mission and frequently overstepping their role, the civil party lawyers appeared to try and make up for a failing prosecution office. For its part, the Chamber rarely sought to channel these abuses or drifts and did not use its full authority to ensure a strict direction of the hearings. Thursday/ the hearings. Thursday, while there was likely only a few days of hearings left, the Chamber allowed itself to invent a new rule of the game. On the substance, this turning point stirred consternation, not only among civil parties, but also the prosecution and the defence, whilst among the judges, judge Lavergne registered a dissenting opinion for the first time.
Duch’s trial: black day for victims’ participation Duch’s trial: black day for victims’ participation Reviewed by Sopheap Chhin on 1:51:00 AM Rating: 5

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