Ex-Khmer Rouge leader appeals conviction

[JURIST] Lawyers for former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] official Kaing Guek Eav [case materials; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday filed a notice of an appeal [text, PDF] of his conviction by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website]. Last month, the trial chamber of the ECCC convicted Kaing [JURIST report], also known as "Duch," of crimes against humanity and of violating the 1949 Geneva Conventions, sentencing him to 35 years in prison. Kaing's sentence was reduced to 19 years after the court considered time served as well as other factors. The defense's appeal calls for Kaing's acquittal on the grounds that the trial chamber does not have personal jurisdiction over him and there was error in determining his 35-year sentence. The defense reasons that the court relied on the prosecution's evidence in finding that the case came under the temporal, territorial and material jurisdiction of the ECCC, but failed to show beyond a reasonable doubt why Kaing fell under its personal jurisdiction. In giving preference to common law principles, the defense contends that the court's interpretation of jurisdiction violates Article 2(1) of the Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia and Articles 1 and 2 of the ECCC law [texts, PDFs]. The appeal also asks the court to find that Kaing was merely a witness to the events and that his detention period from the date of his arrest to the date of the judgment qualifies as witness protection.

Last week, the prosecution filed a notice of an appeal [JURIST report] seeking to increase Kaing's term of imprisonment. The prosecution identified three grounds for appeal, including a discernible error in the exercise of sentencing discretion, an error of law regarding cumulative convictions and an error of law regarding enslavement. Kaing unexpectedly asked to be released [JURIST report] at the close of his trial in November. His request was a complete departure from his previous conduct, as he had cooperated with the trial and repeatedly apologized to his victims and their families, mitigating conduct that earned him a reduced sentence from the 40 years prosecutors originally sought. His lawyers took different approaches in their closing remarks, with one stating that his client was not guilty and the other asking for clemency. In March 2009, Kaing accepted responsibility and apologized [JURIST report] for his conduct at the detention facility. He is the first of eight ex-Khmer Rouge officials expected to be tried before the ECCC. In April, the pre-trial chamber of the ECCC dismissed appeals by three other former Khmer Rouge officials [JURIST report] to block the extension of their provision detention. The three prisoners, Ieng Thirith, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan, were arrested in November 2007 and face charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, torture and religious persecution.

 

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