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Lawyers Urge Khmer Rouge Victims to File

The international group Lawyers Without Borders has made an appeal for more victims of jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch to come forward with complaints for the tribunal, as Duch's trial approaches.

"It is necessary that victims express their rights at this time in order not to be late because the first case [of investigation of Duch] has been closed, and victims have until the end of July, 2008" to file complaints, the group said in a statement Tuesday.

The investigation of charges against Duch closed May 15, the first case of five accused Khmer Rogue leaders to be tried. No trial date has been scheduled.

Victims complaints lend "more credibility" to the process, "by showing that the victims are concerned with the tribunal," said Jean-Baptiste de Seze, coordinator of Lawyers Without Borders in Cambodia. "I believe there are only around 15 complaints against the first case, among 150,000 or 160,000 victims. That means the complaints are not many."

The courts have received more than 1,300 total complaints so far, said Keat Bophal, director of the Victim's Unit of the tribunal. Duch's case has received more than 10 complaints from civil parties, she said.

"The participation of victims as civil parties is very important, because they will not only provide the evidence to the courts, but what they bring will be kept as a historical document related to the Democratic Kampuchea regime," she said.

Lawyers Without Borders, which has 10 French and two Cambodian lawyers in the country, is willing to help victims file their complaints, de Seze said.