Cambodia’s UN-backed genocide tribunal is mounting a media blitz to urge more Khmer Rouge victims to participate in the upcoming trial of the regime’s prison chief, a court spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The court on Monday set February 17 as the start date for the long-awaited trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the first leader of the regime to face trial for atrocities committed in the 1970s.
It gave victims until February 2 to come forward and will use the media to “inform victims all over the country if they wish to participate as civil parties that they have two more weeks,” spokeswoman Helen Jarvis told AFP.
“We will be making arrangements to put notices in the newspapers, radio spots and we hope also to make announcements on TV. We want to give them (victims) every chance to participate,” she said.
Duch is accused of overseeing the torture and extermination of more than 12,000 men, women and children when he headed Tuol Sleng prison, known as S-21, during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 rule.
But so far only 28 people have been officially recognised as civil parties to Duch’s trial, and about 70 more applications are still being processed, Jarvis said.
The inclusion of Khmer Rouge victims who can tell their stories in proceedings is intended to make for inclusive trials that bring a measure of healing to Cambodia.
So far less than 3,000 people have filed complaints against the former regime leaders.
Duch is one of five Khmer Rouge chiefs who have been detained by the court for their alleged roles in the regime.
A mathematics teacher who became the Khmer Rouge’s torturer-in-chief, Duch has been in prison since 1999 for his role at Tuol Sleng. He was formally transferred to the tribunal and indicted in July 2007.
Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation and overwork as the Khmer Rouge dismantled modern Cambodian society during its rule in a bid to forge a communist utopia.