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Witness testifies about execution at ex-Khmer Rouge leader 'Duch' trial

[JURIST] A witness in the trial of former Khmer Rogue [BBC backgrounder] leader Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder, JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch," testified Monday about his uncle's execution by Kaing and other crimes committed at the prison camp M-13. The witness, Chan Veoun, testified before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] that while he worked at the prison he observed [AFP report] not only his uncle's execution but also saw Kaing once burn a woman's breasts and said that shackled prisoners would be left to drown in pits during the monsoon season. Kaing, who admitted responsibility [JURIST post] for the deaths of prisoners at the S-21 prison, denies everything revealed in Chan's testimony. The M-13 camp is outside the court's jurisdiction, but testimony about events there has been admitted to establish Kaing's role in the Khmer Rouge regime. In the coming week, the ECCC will hear testimony [Phnom Penh Post report] from former S-21 staff and survivors.

Kaing recently requested release to 'safe house' [JURIST report] during Cambodia genocide trial, though he lost a similar appeal [JURIST report] of his pre-trial detention in 2007. His trial is the first of eight [JURIST report] that the ECCC hopes to hear against former members of the Khmer Rouge, which has been accused of murdering 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] during its nearly four-year reign. The ECCC has long been plagued with accusations of corruption and inadequate funding, with greater problems in recent years. In March, the ECCC reported that it would be unable to pay its Cambodian employees [JURIST report] for that month, one year after the court had requested $114 million dollars from the UN [JURIST report]. In February, Human Rights Watch warned that the ECCC trials were in danger of being tainted for their failure to follow fair trial standards [JURIST report], and in January a Cambodian court agreed to hear a corruption case [JURIST report] involving two ECCC judges.

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