Kiwi rower confronts his brother's killer in Phnom Penh

  • Breaking
  • 17/08/2009

New Zealander Rob Hamill, whose brother Kerry was tortured and slain by the Communist regime in Cambodia in 1978, wept as he confronted his brother's killer in court yesterday.

Hamill testified before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh about the "massive and unquantifiable impact" the horrific death of his brother, 27, had on his family.

His family learned Kerry was dead 16 months after he disappeared. Their parents read in a newspaper that he was executed after two months in prison.

His parents were hugely affected by the appalling death.

"It changed them. They were never the same after it all happened," Rob Hamill told the court.

He was 14 when the awful news arrived.

"Death not by shipwreck, not by drowning or freak accident, but death by torture. Death by torture not over a few seconds or minutes or hours or days or weeks even," he said.

"They were terribly affected, as any parents would have been.

"The death of their first-born was the worst possible news for our family. He had not just been killed, he had been tortured."

Hamill, former Olympic and long-distance rower, told NZPA he had waited a long time to confront his brother's killer and relate the impact it had on his parents and siblings.

Hamill's mother is now dead and his father in a nursing home.

Hamill's wife Rachel and their two-year-old son were in the packed public gallery as he spoke for a full hour.

Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch as he is known, the man responsible for Kerry Hamill's death, listened impassively to the testimony as it was translated.

Duch, 66, has admitted murder but the five judges -- New Zealander Dame Silvia Cartwright, a French national and three Cambodians -- will decide his innocence or guilt after hearing all the evidence.

Dame Silvia was in court today to hear Hamill, who was accepted as a civil party.

Kerry Hamill was captured by the Khmer Rouge when the yacht on which he and friends were sailing strayed into Cambodian waters in August 1978.

Crewman Stuart Glass, a Canadian, was shot dead.

Hamill and Briton John Dewhirst were interrogated and tortured for two months before being killed in Phnom Penh's notorious Tuol Sleng Prison, run by Duch.

Thousands of Cambodians were killed at the prison.

Duch has pleaded the same defence as some of the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials after World War 2, maintaining he was simply carrying out orders and would have been shot had he not done so.

"Duch, at times I have wanted to smash you, to use your words. The same way that you smashed so many others," Hamill said, sitting in a suit and tie, his hands folded before him.

"Smash" was the euphemism the Khmer Rouge used when ordering executions.

"At times, I have imagined you shackled, starved, whipped and clubbed, viciously.

"I have imagined your scrotum electrified, being forced to eat your own faeces, being nearly drowned and having your throat cut.

Duch sat behind him, expressionless.

"I have wanted that to be your experience, your reality. I have wanted you to suffer the way you made Kerry and so many others (suffer)," Hamill said.

About a dozen Westerners were among the estimated 16,000 people held at the prison before being killed.

The communist regime's radical policies while in power from 1975-79 caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people nationwide by execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition.

Asked by judges for his response, Duch (pronounced DOIK) repeated his earlier testimony that he received orders to kill the Westerners and burn their bodies.

He asked for forgiveness from the victims' families, acknowledging that they had suffered miserably.

He said he was not offended by being blamed.

"Even if the people threw stones at me and caused my death, I would not say anything," he told the court.

Duch is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and murder, and could face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Cambodia has no death penalty.

His trial is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia. This resulted in the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, overwork and torture.




source: newshub archive