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In Case of Torture Chief, Few 'Friends of Court' Briefs

The Khmer Rouge tribunal received only six "friends of the court" briefs for the pre-trial release hearing for Kaing Khek Iev by the deadline Thursday, a low number, a court observer said Friday.

The briefs, which were called for Sept. 4, are meant to support or detract from a decision on the pre-trial release of Kaing Khek Iev, better know by his revolutionary name Duch, the head of the infamous Tuol Sleng torture center, where nearly 16,000 people died in four years.

The court had given 30 days for groups and individuals to file amicus curiae, or "friend of the courts," briefs to augment the hearing.

The Open Society Justice Initiative said Friday the tribunal courts had failed to disseminate a call for the briefs, leading to a low number, which would have helped Cambodians participate in the process of justice. Duch's lawyers posted a call for the briefs late, as well, the group said.

However, even having some amicus curiae briefs was a small success, said Long Panhavuth, program officer for OSJI in Phnom Penh.

Tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said the date had not yet been fixed a hearing on Duch's pre-trial release, because the briefs needed to be translated and analyzed.

The six briefs had come from non-government organizations and private individuals, she said.

A hearing on whether Duch can be released ahead of a trial could take place as early as next month, she said.