By Puy Kea PHNOM PENH ,
Feb. 18 KYODO
A defense lawyer for a notorious Khmer Rouge-era prison jailer charged Wednesday that Nuon Chea, known as Brother No. 2, ordered all prisoners killed four days before the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia toppled Jan. 7, 1979.
Kar Savuth, a Cambodian co-lawyer for Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, 66, said on the last day of an initial hearing against his client that ''S-21 received an order from Nuon Chea on 3 January 1979 to kill all prisoners, including children.'' The lawyer, however, did not say how many were killed on the order of Nuon Chea that day or the following days.
It is the first time the accused, through his lawyer, revealed to the public that Nuon Chea, now also being detained at U.N.-backed court facilities, was one of the top Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the deaths of the prisoners. Duch was the chief at Tuol Sleng Prison in central Phnom Penh , codenamed S-21, from 1976 to 1979. He is blamed for the deaths of between 13,000 and 16,000 prisoners.
During the one-and-a-half day initial hearing, Duch appeared in the courtroom but was not allowed to give any statement because the hearing is designed for the five judges, including three Cambodians, to consider motions from the two sides, the case profile, legal and procedural issues and to finalize the scheduling of witness and experts to be heard at a full trial at a date yet to be set.
Duch is one of the five Khmer Rouge figures being at a detention center of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a special tribunal set up with U.N. blessing and the participation of two foreign judges. The Khmer Rouge are blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians in the late 1970s. Concluding the last day of the hearing, Nil Nonn, president of the Trial Chamber, said decisions resulting from the hearing will be handed down soon, but no specific date was given.
But Helen Jarvis, chief of the ECCC public affairs section, said she expected the decisions to be announced in one to two weeks. By then, the exact date for Duch's full trial should be set. On Tuesday, a defense lawyer said Duch will ask for forgiveness from the victims, likely during the trial. In a separate statement Wednesday, defense lawyers rejected a co-prosecutor appeal to incorporate two new films taken by a Vietnamese military cameraman that aimed to impose further blame on their client. The defense lawyers argued the films were fabricated by Vietnam , with ''political motivation.''
They pointed out eight parts of the films are contradictory to fact, including using the designation ''Tuol Sleng Prison'' instead of ''S-21'' as used by the Khmer Rouge at least until Jan. 7, 1979. The motion will be decided by the five judges of the Trial Chamber.
KyodoFebruary 18, 2009