A perfect book about imperfect justice

11 October 2011 by Christian Chartier

A brilliant book by Thierry Cruvellier! Available in French - but one only can hope it will soon be translated into Khmer, English and other languages. With all due respect to the writer’s sharp pen and underlying albeit biting irony. His work reads like a novel. However, this is no fiction – unfortunately: the some 12,000 people who died in the infamous S-21 prison, managed by Duch, are real.

Reporting on national criminal trials requires obvious skills: knowledge of the law, insight into the social background of the case, its possible resonance, connections with the actors and open-mindedness to the human components of the courtroom drama. But reporting on international trials is even more demanding for they are an extraordinary process.

Compared to national criminal cases, international trials are indeed what 3D movies are to traditional productions: involving, in turn or simultaneously, history, politics, mass psychology, international and domestic laws, sociology, etc. They are multi-dimensional. To cover a trial before an international court thus is a multi-faceted exercise for which nuanced writing, narrative punch and observation talent are mere basic aptitudes.

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