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Witness List Passed to Tribunal Judges

Prosecutors have sent a list of witnesses to the Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, officials said Monday, a key step in moving closer to a trial for jailed prison Duch.

By having the list of witnesses, judges can now chose who will appear in an upcoming trial. This will also help set a definite time-table for the trial of Duch, 66. wjp os charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and homicide for his role as the head of Tuol Sleng prison, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21.

The trial for Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is expected to begin in earnest in March. The Trial Chamber is expected to hold a two-day meeting later this week to fix a date for the trial. Duch’s trial will mark the first for the tribunal, which has been beleaguered since its inception, with organization, management, funding, and allegations of corruption.

A source close to the tribunal said a list of more than 30 witnesses was sent to the Trial Chamber earlier this month. Among those listed are survivors of Tuol Sleng, family members of prisoners killed in there, and previous staff of the prison, where at least 12,000 people were tortured and later executed.

“It is clear that the first trial will allow witnesses to come and tell their stories, their experiences, which will permit them to shed light on what happened,” said Robert Petit, an international prosecutor for the tribunal.

The process will help some people understand better the regime, but the topic of the hearing would be focused only on the prison, he said.

The list includes an array of witnesses who will paint several pictures of the prison.

“There are, on one hand, survivors, and there are people who have worked in Tuol Sleng,” said Silke Studzinsky, a lawyer for civil party participants in the tribunal. “So there are of course witnesses that are very important and who are able to talk about the conditions in court.”

Tribunal judges could not be reached for comment Monday.