Saturday, July 04, 2009

Khmer rouge trial a "novel approach to international justice"

Just read this interesting article on how victims of the Khmer Rouge want money and the precedent this sets for international justice. But you can hardly fault the Khmers for demanding money - they learn from their leaders, from their police, the people who are supposed to uphold the law. Besides, what meaningful alternative is there since most of the KR leaders are dead? There's no justice left to extract.

From the article by the Christian Science Monitor :
"It's a novel approach in the field of international justice," Clint Williamson, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, said at a recent press conference in Phnom Penh. "We think victim participation in the process is a positive thing, but it should not be taking place because people are seeking some type of monetary remuneration at the end of the process."
One of these people is Chum. "I want money," he told CSM. "I lost five family members – my wife and four children – and some property under the Khmer Rouge. The court needs to calculate what this equals with money."

"Some of the victims are even jealous of the defendants – they have a nice place to live, a car that brings them to the court," says Mr. Kong Pisey, a Cambodian attorney representing Chum.

"[Duch and the other defendants] don't have to sleep with small containers filled with their own urine and [excrement]," Chum scoffs, describing his life while inside Duch's prison. "If S-21 was hell, they live in heaven."

One German lawyer, Silke Studzinsky has requested the creation of a trust fund into which third parties might donate money for reparations. Awarding individual financial reparations, she tells CSM, "is part of the justice process. It is not complete if you miss this very important part" even though the court has twice declined her requests.

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