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Duch Release Hearing to Be Public, Tribunal Says

A hearing to determine whether detained Khmer Rouge cadre Duch can be released ahead of a genocide trial will be public, the tribunal courts said Wednesday.

The hearing "shall be held in public on a date to be determined," Pre-Trial Chamber President Judge Prak Kimsan wrote in a decision posted on the tribunal's Web site.

Duch, whose real name was Kaing Khek Iev, was in the custody of the military courts from 1999 until his transfer to the special tribunal courts in June. His lawyers argue he should be released after such a long detention.

A public hearing to decide the matter is an effort to include the myriad victims of the Khmer Rouge in the trial process.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath told Radio Australia the hearing would be held in a 500-seat trial chamber, because this will be the first chance for many Cambodians to see Duch, the head of Phnom Penh's Tuol Sleng torture center.

Under his watch, 16,000 Cambodians were tortured, executed and dumped in mass graves on the outskirts of the capital.

The hearing could be as soon as November.

"It is good when it is public," Center for Social Development Executive Director Seng Theary said. "But this is not a core issue. The core issue is the crime that the prosecutors have charged against him. We appeal for the court to do this properly, efficiently and quickly."