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Torture Chief Selects Lawyers

The first man to be indicted by the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Kaing Khek Iev, has selected two lawyers to represent him in his trial, the courts said Wednesday.

The torture chief commonly known as Duch was questioned, charged and detained for crimes against humanity Tuesday, the first and only defendant so far in a tribunal for former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Under the tribunal rules, a defendant will have a foreign and Cambodian lawyer, just as he will face foreign and Cambodian investigators, prosecutors and judges.

Duch will be represented by his longtime attorney Kar Savuth and French lawyer Francois Roux. Duch selected the lawyers from a list provided by the tribunal courts, after he claiming he "does not have the means to pay for his lawyers," the tribunal said in a statement.

Roux "defended four cases of genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda" and was a member of the defense team for Zacarias Moussaoui, who was tried for his part in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the US, the statement said.

Roux's application to the Cambodian Bar Association is now under consideration, and until it is approved he will not be able to speak to the court, the courts said. He will, however, act as appointed legal counsel to assist in the preparation of the case, the courts said.

The Cambodian Bar Association has made itself a sticking point over a functioning tribunal in the past, demanding high fees for foreign lawyers that nearly scuttled talks over the tribunal earlier this year.

Duch was the head of Tuol Sleng prison, where 16,000 people were executed between 1975 and 1979. He is the first to be indicted following the drafting of a list of five confidential suspects by prosecutors to be investigated by the courts.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Wednesday the US "strongly supports bringing to justice senior leaders" of the Khmer Rouge.

A Japanese Embassy official said Japan hoped the tribunal "will continue to proceed smoothly."