Civil parties under attack at Khmer Rouge court

16 September 2009 by Thierry Cruvellier

Victims attending the trial of Kaing Guek Eav – a.k.a. Duch – were outraged when, on August 27th, the court’s trial chamber challenged their participation in the final phase of the trial.

Preliminary internal discussions on the role of civil parties had been held within the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for several months. On August 21st, the result of these efforts was presented at the last minute to civil society organizations and human rights NGOs.

However, on August 27th, a majority of first instance judges suddenly revealed their determination to enact broad reforms regarding the participation of victims before the court.

In the middle of the morning, the trial chamber announced that, by a vote of four to one, it would not allow civil parties to be involved in debate over sentencing.

But that was just the first blow.

The day before, the trial chamber had also asked all parties to the trial to give their opinion regarding the right of lawyers for civil parties to participate in the final phase of the process—that of the presentation of character witnesses such as psychological experts and defense witnesses.

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