April 4, 2013 | Quote

A Court in Cambodia

Duch gave the Nuremberg defense: He was merely following orders. He was convicted, and sentenced to 35 years in prison, reduced to 19. This sentence was appealed to a higher chamber within the ECCC: and that higher chamber upped the sentence to life. You never saw a sweeter-looking man than Duch. And, by the way, there is no death penalty in Cambodia. There isn’t any in Israel either — but they made an exception for Eichmann.

So far, Duch is the only person to have been tried, in full, for Khmer Rouge crimes. Like Brother Number 3, Brothers 2 and 4 may not live until the end of their trial. They are in and out of the hospital, and are receiving the best of care. Think of what their victims, those millions, received.

The ECCC is a vast operation, with a cast of hundreds. These hundreds come from all over the world. They are judges, lawyers, administrators, staffers, and on and on. Ieng Sary had an international team of five lawyers. One of them was a pretty young woman from Indiana. As of now, the ECCC has spent $209 million. A lot of fuss has been made over a few old men, and one senile woman.

You can see pictures of them, all over the ECCC website. They are the stars of the show. You see them smiling, sitting serenely, exchanging confidences with their lawyers. You can almost forget they are genocidal monsters.

The trials have been marred by a number of things — prominent among them, the interference or lack of cooperation by the government. It seems clear that the government has pressured the court not to indict certain persons. And when the court has summoned government officials, merely to give testimony, those officials have felt free to ignore the summonses. Then there is good old-fashioned financial corruption.

Claudia Rosett, the American journalist, who is an authority on the U.N., makes a point about international bodies such as the ECCC: They can become gravy trains. They can start to exist mainly for the benefit of those who work for them. The ECCC may well limp on, doling out its salaries and per diems, until the last Khmer Rouge croaks.

It may have been better to have a truth commission: no prosecution, just lots of testimony, and amnesty for all. John Bolton, the American diplomat and lawyer, is of this view, and so are many Cambodians. The Khmer Rouge defendants, far from confessing and apologizing, are proclaiming their innocence. They have no incentive to sing. You have the spectacle of one of Brother Number 2’s lawyers, a Dutchman, demanding that Henry Kissinger appear in the dock. It was the United States that made possible the rise of the Khmer Rouge, you see. “Without Kissinger, we would not be here today,” said the lawyer.

Read the full article here.


International Organizations