Memories of millions

Dame Silvia Cartwright, former New Zealand Governor-General and now serving as one of five international judges on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh, has recently criticized Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s disdain for the court and for comments made that he wanted everything wrapped up as soon as possible. There are concerns that the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, who ran Tuol Sleng torture centre and prison, could be the first and last the multi million dollar court hears. “I would pray for this court to run out of money and for the foreign judges and prosecutors to walk out,” Hun Sen said. As many as 1.7 million Cambodians perished in the Khmer Rouge reign between 1975 and 1979. “Countries where the rule of law is respected and where their citizens can be sure of a fair trial are those in which the independence of the courts and judges is guaranteed,” Justice Cartwright said. “Comments, politically motivated or otherwise, which appear to be an attempt to interfere with that independence are therefore to be deplored.” Justice Cartwright has also stressed the link between transparency at the court and donor willingness to contribute more funding for “the perpetually-insolvent tribunal”, wrote The Phnom Penh Post in March. Justice Cartwright, who has been living in Phnom Penh since last July, has been preparing for her role by reading a mountain of evidence. “I don’t think I have read everything by any stretch of the imagination but, by heaven, I’ve read a fair bit. It’s huge,” she says. New Zealander Kerry Hamill, 28, brother of rower Rob Hamill, died at the prison in 1978, where he was taken after his yacht was blown off course.

Tags: Cambodia  Duch  Khmer Rouge  Phnom Penh Post  Rob Hamill  Sylvia Cartwright