The defense team for the Khmer Rouge torture chief Duch have launched an appeal to the Supreme Court Chamber of the UN-backed tribunal, urging the release of their client.
Duch received a commuted sentence of 19 years in July, following a guilty verdict for atrocity crimes and the overseeing of the torture and killing of more than 12,000 prisoners at Tuol Sleng prison while the Khmer Rouge was in power.
“In their appeal, the lawyers requested firstly to the Supreme Court to consider as null the verdict against Duch and release him,” tribunal spokesman Dim Sovannarom said. “Secondly to consider Duch's detention as protection for a potential witness toward indictments of top leaders and those most responsible for the crimes at Tuol Sleng.”
The tribunal is preparing to try four leaders of the regime next year: Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.
Kar Savuth, a lawyer for Duch's defense, confirmed the appeal but declined to give further details.
Duch was arrested in May 1999 and was later charged by the tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and homicide.
Family members of those killed at his prison expressed disappointment with the sentence, reduced from 35 years total for time served and leniency. And tribunal prosecutors have made their own appeal, for 45 years without reduction.
Dim Sovannarom said the Supreme Court could take up to eight months to deal with the appeal.