Link: Long-delayed Khmer Rouge genocide trial to begin [Associated Press]
Cambodia's first genocide trial is finally underway as prosecutors launch their case against Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch). Four other senior Khmer Rouge officials are set to be tried over the next year.
Amnesty International has called for many more people to be brought to trial to deliver justice to the millions of victims of the Khmer Rouge.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have been plagued by political wrangling, corruption scandals and inadequate financing with Japan injecting $200,000 on March 20th to pay for salaries for 251 Cambodian court employees.
Link: Khmer Rouge defendant expresses 'sorrow' for crime [Associated Press]
News just in, Duch has expressed "regretfulness and heartfelt sorrow for all crimes" and he has taken responsibility for the crimes committed at S-21.
Link: Cambodia PM rejects wider Khmer Rouge trials [Reuters]
The Cambodian prime minister has warned today that putting more Khmer Rouges cadres on trial could plunge the country back into civil war. He has said that he would prefer to see the tribunal fail than have his country return to war.
This was the same excuse used to prevent a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cambodia, which I discussed here. It is so frustrating and I cannot deny that at this stage, such things could cause great instability. When I first heard on 17 February that the "landmark" Khmer Rouge trials were starting, I could not believe that this was happening for the first time in 30 years. I had naively thought that such trials would have happened at least 25 years ago and this is why I immediately went out and tried to read up on the Khmer Rouge regime.
That is the precise problem and the lesson to be learned from all of this: it is vitally important that we react appropriately and quickly to human rights violations in order to stop them happening as they happen. In addition, commissions of inquiry must be speedily set up following such events and perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to answer for their crimes in a timely but fair manner. This is vital to ensuring healing and reconciliation and in maintaining stability following such events.