James O’Toole and Cheang Sokha
The Phnom Penh Post
The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Supreme Court Chamber will hear the appeal of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav in March of next year, the court said in a statement Thursday.
The notorious jailer, better known as Duch, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in July by the court’s Trial Chamber after being found guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. The court said his appeal hearings will take place “during the last week of March 2011”, adding that the exact dates and times of the hearings will be announced “in due course”.
“We expect that [the hearings] will be public,” court spokesman Reach Sambath said. “I think the court will always be full of people.”
Duch’s lawyers filed an appeal against the judgment last month, charging that their client falls outside the court’s mandate to investigate “senior leaders” and those “most responsible” for crimes committed under the regime of Democratic Kampuchea.
The appeal followed the shocking turnabout last year during closing arguments when, after accepting limited responsibility and essentially pleading guilty through months of hearings, Duch asked to be acquitted and released.
The court’s prosecutors have also appealed against the July verdict, claiming that judges had given “insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch’s crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes”.
They have called on the Supreme Court Chamber to sentence the defendant to 45 years in prison, reduced from a life sentence due to Duch’s unlawful pre-trial detention.
“There comes a point where the crimes committed are sufficiently grave and the offender sufficiently notorious, or in such a position of authority, that the highest sentence must be imposed,” the prosecutors wrote in their appeal. “That point was reached and passed here.”
41 civil parties have also appealed, requesting either that the court declare their claims admissible or amend their reparations award.