Cambodia court opens first hearing 20 Nov 2007
The former director of the Khmer Rouge's notorious Toul Sleng Security Prison during the 1970s, Kaing Guek Eav (“Duch”), has appeared before the ECCC.

Kaing Guek EavOn Tuesday, 20 November 2007, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) – an independent court created by the United Nations and the Cambodian government to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979 – commenced its first open hearing.

Kaing Guek Eav, otherwise known as “Duch”, appeared before the court in Phnom Penh to appeal against his continuing detention eight years after he was first taken into custody. Duch – now in his mid-60s – was allegedly the head of the Khmer Rouge’s secret police and the director of the Toul Sleng Security Prison (S-21), where approximately 17,000 people were imprisoned between 1975 and 1979. Thousands of those detainees were tortured and subsequently executed in Cambodia’s notorious ‘killing fields’. Duch has been charged with crimes against humanity.

Kaing Guek Eav is one of five senior Khmer Rouge officials to be charged by the court. The others facing trial include Pol Pot’s second-in-command, Nuon Chea, and Khieu Samphan, the so-called Chairman of the State Presidium of Democratic Kampuchea. Mr. Khiieu Samphan was taken into the custody of the ECCC on Monday, 19 November 2007, and likewise charged with crimes against humanity.

On 12 November 2007, the former foreign and social affairs ministers, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, were taken into custody in execution of an arrest warrant delivered by the Co-Investigating Judges of the court.

An amicus curiae in the present case, a lawyer representing the interests of the detainee before the court, had earlier submitted a brief asserting that Duch had already been detained “pre-trial” before the Cambodian judicial system on the basis of the same crime and that this detention had long since exhausted its maximum statutory duration. The brief consequently recommended that the detainee be released pending the commencement of his trial, possibly under 24-hour surveillance.

Click here for the amicus curiae brief

In the coming days, the judges are expected to decide whether Duch will be released on bail until the trial begins - most likely to be in early 2008.

The leader of the Khmer Rouge movement, Saloth Sar – known to the world as "Pol Pot" – died on 15 April 1998.

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