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Tribunal Trials Not for Revenge: Official

As the Khmer Rouge tribunal goes through its first trial, for prison chief Duch, more light will be shed on the regime, educating people about the dark period in their history, a tribunal spokesman said Monday.

“The trial is not for revenge,” said Reach Sambath, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Duch, 66, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is facing charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, for his role as the head of Tuol Sleng and Prey Sar prisons and the Choeung Ek “killing fields,” where up to 16,000 Cambodians were executed and dumped into mass graves.

Duch’s trial “will explain the real history of Cambodia,” Reach Sambath said. “It will allow the younger generation to understand what happened.”

Callers from the audience had many questions about the trial and the history of the Khmer Rouge, including the exact death toll from the regime; researchers put it between 1.7 million and 3 million.

“We expect that by the end of the mandate of the [tribunal] we can find out clearly the exact figure of the victims killed in the Khmer Rouge regime,” Reach Sambath said.

The tribunal will hold trials for four other senior-most leaders, he said: ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, foreign minister Ieng Thirith.

That number could widen, however, if the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal sides with recommendations from international prosecutor Robert Petit. His recommendation that the indictments be widened has been opposed by Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang.

“The controversy of more indictments proposed by the international co-prosecutor and rejected by his Cambodian counterpart is under consideration at the Pre-Trial Chamber,” Reach Sambath said.