Public reactions to the Duch Appeal Hearing
Seang Vandy, male, 65, admitted to Civil Party in Case 001, from Kratie province
I believe that Duch will not be released. Personally, and I want him to receive a life sentence, but it is up to the court to decide of this in their final judgment in the next three months. Whatever the final judgment will say, part of my heart will find peace for the death of my brother.
About the reparations issue, I would like to have something written down, or establishing a museum or a library as a legacy for future generations.
Somaly, female, 19, student in Kandal pedagogic training school
The tribunal is good, it increases trust among people towards the government.
It is also good for the young generation: we can learn from it and will not repeat what the Khmer Rouge did.
Dim Channa, male, 20, student in Kandal pedagogic training school
The tribunal is good as it reveals the truths about the Khmer Rouge regime, and the people can learn about it. I personally believe that this tribunal will bring justice to victims.
Chreung Kim Heng, female, 57, from Kampong Thom province
This tribunal helps victims to feel at peace, due to the fact that their suffering is being dealt with. I think the process is fair enough, as every party is represented by lawyers and the arguments are quite strong.
As a Buddhist, I think the previous judgment is fair enough for Duch and for the victims because everything that he did during Democratic Kampuchea was under the supervision of the top leaders. He did not create that job by himself. The tribunal law said that the tribunal tries only senior leaders and those who are most responsible. According to information from the accused’s side, he received orders from the senior leaders such as Nuon Chea and Son Sen. Therefore, he is not the top leader, but he received orders from others. A 30-year term in prison is fair enough. I don’t think he will live long enough to complete this term, I’m sorry to say this, but I think the trial’s decision was made to satisfy the victims.
Concerning reparations, I think the court should grant what the Civil Parties have asked, for they are not asking for much.
I believe that this court brings justice to victims, though not to a large extent at the moment. But the process is continuous: we will have case 002 in the future. So this court brings hope to people so that they can finally received some kind of justice for which they have waited for 30 years.
Phung Gut Sunthary, female, admitted to Civil Party in case 001
From my observation during the hearing this time, the presiding judge gave fair and sufficient time for every party to speak in detail and to conclude what they wanted, which is different from the presiding judge in the trial chamber who was aggressive and not giving fair nor sufficient time for every party to speak.
This morning I listened to Civil Party lawyers explain about the admissibility of Civil Party Applicants. I think I would agree with the Lawyers that there was not sufficient time to find documents to support Civil Party applications that were rejected by the trial chamber. An example of my own experience: there are plenty of documents in S-21, and I had to go there many times to look at the documents piece by piece. This was in the year 2004, not 1979, and every document was there. Then it reflects the process at the KRT. One example was a victim named Nong Chan Phal. First, Duch did not admit that he was a child victim at S-21, until later when a supporting document was found, after which Duch admitted his crime. See, the trial is proceeding, but the victims were late to submit their documents. So, once they have enough supporting documents, the trial should reconsider their applications.
I am not taking sides, but no one wants to come here and create a mess, but these are facts that happened.
From my observation, the Co-prosecutors and Civil Party lawyers have strong arguments, while the defense also has strong tones.
Personally, I want the Supreme Court to give Duch a life sentence, because I think he has lied from the beginning until the end. If he were a good person, when he converted to Christianity, he would have told the truth, but he lied to his Priest. That is one mistake, one big mistake.
If he has regrets and want to apologize for the deaths, he should have accepted his prison term, and not ask for release immediately. This shows how sneaky he is.
He said himself in the hearing in front of the Trial Chamber, that “he was a bulldog for his bosses.” A bulldog is very aggressive. And he said, “he was over-confident.”, an over-confident person who was appointed prison chief. How many he would have to kill and torture to please his bosses? He used that word, “please.” He must have been a great successful in M-13. That’s why he was appointed chief of S-21.
Over these last few days, I have been keeping an eye on his attitude all the way through. I’m not looking for revenge, but I’m searching for the truth about my father’s fate, which was in his hands. During the hearing in front of the judges, he acted differently than during recess time. So, he is sneaky.
During these three days of hearings, his facial expression was different than before. Before, at the hearings at the trial chamber stage, he was very arrogant. He used gentle and nice words to please those he wanted to please, but during the recess, he saw an S-21 survivor, Chum Mey, whom he saluted in a mocking and humiliating way. But during these three days, he has been looking so hopeless that things were not going the way he wanted.
Right now I feel relieved because I have fulfilled my obligation as a daughter who sought the truth about my father’s fate. It is also a historical mission that I have done as a citizen.
Concerning reparations, I think the court should grant the request of Civil Party group 2. Additionally, I want every ministry to have a wall on which the names of the dead victims are written down, their profession, and how they died, and leave some space for people to fill in the names of those who are thought to have died during the regime. This is to honor and to remember the victims, and also to prevent the regime from reoccurring.
Chum Mey, S-21 survivor
Firstly, I have observed that during these three days, co-prosecutors have been very polite while speaking, contrarily to defense lawyers whose gestures were like those of uneducated people.
Secondly, Duch looks very sad which is different from previous hearings where he looked so confident and tough. If he had acted like this from the beginning, we might have some pity on him. But he was so arrogant. I observed that, [during trial chamber hearings] when entering the main courtroom, Duch saluted only the judges but not the public that were sitting on the other side. He should have turned around, raised his hands in gesture and said, “father, mother, brother, sister, I’m sorry, I know what I have done was wrong.” If he had done that, we would at least understand that he admits his mistakes. But he did not. Additionally, during recess, he put his hand in his trouser pockets, and starred directly at people in the gallery. I saw that.
These three days, he looked sad and hopeless, which makes me feel pity for him. But still, he didn’t salute people in the public.
I personally want the Supreme Court to give him a life sentence. If the court keeps his sentence to 35 years, that means there is no justice for me. If the court gives 45 years without any reduction of the time he served in prison before, then I believe there will be 80% of justice for me. Why? Because in the previous sentencing, 35 years, minus the time he served in prison before, and minus another 6 years as a remedy for his illegal detention, he will remain only 19 years in prison. So, when Duch reaches the age of 86 he will be free. That’s what I can not accept. We want him to have a life sentence to set an example for the world and for our future generations so as not to commit such crimes. If the same regime happened again, all Khmers will die. If he does not receive a life sentence, the next generation will say, ah! Duch who killed thousands of lives did not receive a life sentence, so why would they not dare to do the same?
And if the trial gives such sentence (35 years), can the world accept it? This is the international court and the world takes it as an example. If the world can accept it, then I have nothing else to say.
I can’t forgive Duch because he is not honest. I won’t accept Duch’s apology unless he shows that he is honest and he asks for forgiveness publicly.
Sareth, male, 24, staff at CUS Kampong Cham
I think KRT is transparent and just. It gives opportunities for people and students in remote areas to see and understand the history of Democratic Kampuchea and the process of the trials.
Tho, female, 64, from Kampong Thom province
I want to hear Duch speak. I heard his name, and now I want to see his face and hear him speak. I will leave it to the law to punish him, but I am wondering why they need to try him.
Uch Sam Yol, male, 55, commune council in Pursat province
I see that the trial process is fair and acceptable. People rely on the court to seek justice for them. This is Khmer natural character, even if Duch killed many lives, we wont seek revenge, but I will leave that to the law. I hope, and I believe, that the court will neither release Duch nor give him a longer term, because I think the 35-year term is fair enough. Duch should also accept that sentence, because he killed many lives, why can’t he just accept 35 years in prison?