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“Duch must not be sentenced”: Kar Savuth, Duch’s lawyer

Written By vibykhmer on Monday, March 30, 2009 | 10:54 PM


Kar Savuth (Photo: ALG, Cambodge Soir Hebdo)

30 March 2009
By Ky Soklim and Adrien le Gal
Cambodge Soir Hebdo
Translated from French by Luc Sâr
Click here to read the article in French


According to the Cambodian defense lawyer of the former S-21 boss whose trial is opening on Monday 20 March, it is “impossible” that a sentence could be handed down to his client.

Cambodge Soir Hebdo: How is your client feeling?

Kar Savuth: When his trial started, Duch was very happy and he was not worried at all. He knows that if the tribunal is fair, he will be freed because he is not part of the high-ranking KR officials who should be the only ones to be tried by the KR Tribunal (KRT).Is there still an uncertainty on the sentence that will be handed over to him?

It is possible that there will be sentence. It’s the law. Duch should not be in jail. He did not want to be the chief [of S-21], he wanted to do something else, but he was not allowed to. He told me clearly that he never wanted to be in charge of this place where people were being killed. Who wants to kill human beings? No one! But, what could he do? If he refused to obey the orders, he would have been killed also.

The civil parties want to re-open the investigation to determine if Duch was involved in forced marriages…

It’s too late, the investigations are closed. In any case, forced marriages were done everywhere under the KR regime. They should not accuse Duch who is only obeying his bosses.

You fought so that Duch is not charged with “participation in joint criminal enterprise”…

This charge is not right. In any case, there were 196 jails in the country. It is unfair to accuse Duch. In his center, 12,381 people died, whereas in other jails, more than 150,000 died… We seek justice. Duch is a scapegoat, others who killed are still roaming free.

You were Hun Sen’s lawyer… How do you get along with François Roux who, in France, defends civil disobedience followers?

François Roux and I, we have the same strategy. But, it is wrong to say that I defend only people close to power. I am interested in important affairs, and I defended the KR since 1982. Duch must have heard about me, and that’s why he chose me. The other people charged were also interested [in me], but we can only defend one of the accused.

As Cambodian, do you consider yourself a victim of the KR regime?

Yes, I am victim. But, I don’t have a grudge against Duch, nor the other four who were charged. I am not angry against the minor officials, I am angry against those who issued orders, i.e. Pol Pot. The others were only following orders.

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