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Ex-Khmer Rouge prison chief faces new war crimes charges as genocide trial looms

[JURIST] A Cambodian military court has charged Kaing Khek Iev [Trial Watch profile], also known as Duch, with war crimes in an effort to keep Duch in custody until he can be tried before the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal [JURIST news archive], a Cambodian official said Monday. Duch was arrested in 1999 on genocide charges and was subsequently charged with crimes against humanity in 2002 and war crimes last week. Cambodian military court chief Ney Thol said Monday that Cambodian law allows suspects to be detained without trial for three years on each charge but no longer than nine years since the date of arrest. Ney Thol said that if Duch's trial before the Extraordinary Chamber of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website], the international tribunal established to try former Khmer Rouge officials, does not begin before November 2008, Duch will be released from custody.

Duch is the only former Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] leader currently in custody. He ran the former S-21 [Wikipedia backgrounder] prison and interrogation center, where some 17,000 people died, many of whom were tortured. Former Khmer Rouge military leader Ta Mok [Trial Watch profile] had also been in custody, but he died [JURIST report] last year. Other Khmer Rouge leaders survive but are not yet detained.

The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [PDF text] to investigate and try those responsible for the 1975-79 Cambodian genocide that led to the deaths of at least 1.5 million Cambodians by execution, forced hardship or starvation. Prosecutors have faced significant administrative, legal and linguistic obstacles in preparing cases for trial; their formal investigations only began in July [JURIST report] of last year. AFP has more.

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