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Tribunal Opens ‘Virtual Court’ for US Studies

The Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday opened a virtual digital court that will bring information on its proceedings via the Internet to two well-known universities in America.

The system will be handled by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and accessible by Cambodian educational institutions.

“The Virtual Tribunal will be a groundbreaking way for the [tribunal] to digitally make available to the public all trial related materials such as decisions, fillings, trial transcripts and video of the court proceeding,” the court said in statement.

It would also “link together all these resources and combine them with expert commentary, educational introduction, explanations and interviews,” the court said.

“This is multimedia,” said Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal. “So it will be audio, video and print materials.”

The virtual court will also include evidence, confessions and other public material, he said, “so that normal people can look into the proceedings and get an understanding.”

The tribunal is currently preparing for its second case against Khmer Rouge leaders, following the prosecution of Kaing Kek Iev, the prison chief better known as Duch, last year. The second case will try Duch and four other Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocity crimes.

The virtual court is aimed at Cambodian schools and institutions as well, though it remains unclear which ones will benefit from the project. Technical teams are now expected to begin setting up the project.

“We want to make sure this becomes available to people inside and outside of Cambodia, both during the court time and afterward,” Olsen said.

The tribunal already maintains a Web site where schedules and other information are available, and the UN-backed court also includes an outreach team, augmented by efforts from outside organizations.

However, even more information would be helpful, said Latt Ky, a tribunal coordinator for the rights group Adhoc.

“We’ve noticed that the information from the Khmer Rouge tribunal is not easily accessible,” he said. “Victims who are getting old are waiting for the outcome and developments of the court.”