Phnom Penh: Former Khmer Rouge prison
chief Duch has sacked his international lawyer just weeks
before the verdict in his war crimes trial, Cambodia`s
UN-backed court said on Friday, after a rift emerged in his
Duch, who cited "loss of confidence" in his request to
withdraw Francois Roux as his defence lawyer, unexpectedly
asked judges to acquit and release him on the final day of
arguments in his trial in November.
Duch, real name Kaing Guek Eav, had previously said he
took responsibility for overseeing the murders of around
15,000 men, women and children at the notorious S-21 or Tuol
Sleng prison and begged for forgiveness.
At his verdict on July 26, Duch will continue to be
represented by his Cambodian co-lawyer, Kar Savuth. Both the
Cambodian lawyer and Roux refused to comment on the sacking.
Kar Savuth in November argued that Duch wanted to be
acquitted on the grounds that he was not a senior member of
the Khmer Rouge hierarchy, while co-lawyer Roux had argued for
leniency based on his contrition.
During most of the trial, Duch`s defence team focused
on getting a lighter sentence, by downplaying his position
within the regime and by highlighting his remorse, his time
already served and his cooperation with the court.
But prosecutors said the 67-year-old`s sudden
acquittal demand raised doubts about his admissions of
responsibility and his pleas for forgiveness, while Roux said
in November the change in plea "was a complete, bad surprise".
Roux told AFP at the time he believed the U-turn was
linked to Cambodian political interference in the trial,
noting that Prime Minister Hun Sen had previously said that he
hoped the tribunal would fail.
"This (Duch`s appeal for release) calls into question
Duch`s plea of culpability, but also the competence of the
court," Roux said in November.
The court, set up in 2006 as a final chance to find
justice for victims of the blood-soaked regime, had already
been mired in controversy over alleged political interference
and allegations about kickbacks in return for jobs.