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Initial Hearing Set for Start of Duch Trial

An initial hearing for jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch will be scheduled for Feb. 17, leading to the first-ever trial of the ongoing tribunal, officials announced Monday.

On that date, the tribunal will hold a hearing on witnesses and other participants of the trial, as well as evidence, but the full trial is not likely to begin until March, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said.

“The initial hearing is the beginning of the official trial, and it will respond to the awaiting families and victims of Democratic Kampuchea,” Reach Sambath said, referring to the Khmer Rouge by its political moniker.

The Trial Chamber of the courts will decide the schedule for the full trial of Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, following the February hearing, Reach Sambath said.

“We think it’s a welcome development, and people in general in Cambodia have been waiting a long time for justice to be served,” US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said. “We hope that from this point on the process will move fairly quickly.”

For Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the announcement did not yet signal the justice sought by victims of regime.

“This news does not demonstrate that justice has arrived,” Youk Chhang said. “It is a small step in the enormous investment of time and budget, but at least it has started and it demonstrates that the court works.”