Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch was handed two more counts in his atrocity crimes indictment Friday, but he was not charged under a legal principle that would link four other leaders to his alleged crimes.
Chief judge Prak Kimsan announced the decision of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber Friday, adding the crimes of murder and torture from Cambodia’s Penal Code to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The decision moved the tribunal one step closer to Duch's trial, expected in early 2009, the first ever for courts that have faltered from their inception, alarming critics who worry leaders will perish before they face trial.
Tribunal prosecutors in September lodged an appeal against the indictment, part of a so-called “closing order” by the investigating judges, noting Duch had not been indicted for the two crimes, which fall under the 1956 Penal Code.
Prosecutors also noted Duch, who real name is Kaing Kek Iev, was not indicted for all crimes committed in the notorious prison he ran, Tuol Sleng, known to the Khmer Rouge by the codename S-21.
The Pre-Trial judges said Friday they had found enough reason in the appeal to add the two crimes to Duch’s indictment.
They announced they had found enough cause for murder, because Duch had allegedly planned or incited killings at S-21 and the nearby site of mass graves, or “killing fields,” at Chhoeung Ek, a commune in Phnom Penh’s Dankao district.
Duch’s defense lawyers did not comment after the hearing, but in a brief submitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber in November, they expressed worry that the murder and torture claims could delay the court through further investigation.
However, Hong Kimsuon, a lawyer for the civil parties in Duch’s case, said Friday the new indictment would not extend the investigation or prolong the process.
“It is only an additional [two charges], and after that they will go forward to trial,” he said.
Judge Prak Kimsan also said Friday Duch would be detained until his trial and the case would now be forwarded to the Trial Chamber.
Prak Kimsan said the legal principal known as joint criminal enterprise, which could potentially link the other leaders with Duch’s crimes, had not been satisfactorily demonstrated.