Saturday, August 29, 2009

Media coverage of Rob Hamill's testimony at the Extraordinary Court Chambers of Cambodia

Below are links to online coverage of Rob Hamill's testimony at the Extraordinary Court Chambers of Cambodia on 17 August 2009.

Testimony video
RADIO NEW ZEALAND - NATIONAL
Hamill takes stand in Khmer Rouge trial - Morning Report, Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Audio MP3
Index incl other formats

TV3 video
Rob Hamill speaks about testifying against Khmer Rouge - Campbell Live, Tuesday 18 August 09

Kiwi gives testimony at Khmer Rouge trial - 3News, Tuesday 18 August 09

Kiwi rower confronts his brother's killer in Phnom Penh - 3News afternoon, Tuesday 18 August 09

Full interview with Rob Hamill - 3News, Sunday 9 August 09


TVNZ video
Hamill tells his story to children of Cambodia - OneNews, Saturday 22 August 09

Hamill confronts Khmer Rouge commander - OneNews, Tuesday 18 August 09

Hamill confronts Khmer Rouge commander (shorter version) - OneNews afternoon Tuesday, 18 August 09

Kiwi rower heads to Cambodia to find justice - OneNews, Sunday 9 August 09


FROGBLOG (Green Party) - post by Rob's media liaison Mark Servian
Rob Hamill testifies in Cambodia


WAIKATO TIMES

Editorial: Rob Hamill's act of courage
Last updated 13:00 21/08/2009

It's a holiday snapshot that has become almost unbearably poignant. The photograph shows Kerry Hamill and his girlfriend Gail on his sloop Foxy Lady, moored off Phuket.

She is blonde and tanned, wearing a red bikini and standing near the bow. He is seated beside her, smiling broadly, bearded and wearing only shorts.

But in a trip on that same boat from Singapore to Bangkok in 1978, Kerry was to be blown off course and into Cambodian waters.

He was captured by the Khmer Rouge and taken to Tuol Sleng prison where he was tortured and killed. He was 27.

Thirty-one years later there is another image to add to the story that of Kerry's younger brother Rob in a Cambodian court giving testimony against the man accused of Kerry's execution.

And the accused, the man once known as Comrade Duch, seated in the same courtroom, this time the quarry.

He was in charge of Tuol Sleng where up to 17,000 people died at the hands of the bloody Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot.

Earlier this year Rob Hamill spoke to the Sunday Star Times of his need to forgive Duch, and his doubts that he could.

This week in his anguished testimony, he spoke of the way in which Duch had made himself less than human by what he had done.

Afterwards, Hamill said he wanted Duch imprisoned for life.

It may take him some time to forgive, and he may never be able to. Nor should anyone expect that of him.

But Hamill also said he didn't want Duch to die. He said "to want to kill another human being in retribution is to lower yourself to the level of the perpetrators of such heinous crimes".

This is, in a nutshell, the perfect answer to those who ever, anywhere, clamour for the death penalty, and it came from a person who has been deeply affected.

He appears to have been prompted by international coverage which he felt suggested he had indeed wanted the death penalty. Nothing in his testimony, however, says that is what he seeks.

This has been, to state the obvious, an extraordinarily difficult path for Hamill.

Three decades without resolution is a long time to wait. His determination to have his say, to confront his brother's torturer, has been characteristic of the man who has been an Olympian and has rowed across the Atlantic.

And he must have arrived at court not knowing what it would do to him emotionally.

A frequent difficulty for war crimes tribunals is establishing guilt, often in cases where the person on trial has avoided getting his own hands dirty. W

hat is unfolding in Cambodia appears a much more clearcut case. Assuming nothing unexpected happens Duch will, indeed, be imprisoned for life.

As he should be. But Cambodia does not have the death penalty so he will not be executed. And that is also as it should be.

As painful as it may be, the world's monsters should be locked away, not killed. Rob Hamill is absolutely right.

No wish to kill Duch: Hamill

Last updated 10:14 19/08/2009

New Zealander Rob Hamill is rejecting international headlines claiming he wishes to kill Kaing Guek Eav, the Khmer Rouge commander of the camp where his brother Kerry was murdered in 1978.

In his testimony to the UN-backed trial in Cambodia on Monday night, Mr Hamill said he had at times in the past 31 years imagined Eav, also known as Duch, suffering the same torture inflicted on so many people, but he has never wanted to action those thoughts.

Mr Hamill made it clear yesterday that he was never going to give in to those feelings, that the testimony itself was part of the healing process and he was pushing the emotional burden of the crimes back on to Duch.

"To want to kill another human being in retribution is to lower yourself to the level of the perpetrators of such heinous crimes."

Rob Hamill faces bother's killer

By JEFF NEEMS - Waikato Times
Last updated 09:57 18/08/2009

Hamilton man Rob Hamill faced his brother's alleged killer in a Cambodian court yesterday, but the former torture camp commandant claims he can not remember him.

Speaking to the Times from Phnom Penh shortly after testifying at the UN-backed trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch and the head of the notorious S21 prison camp under Pol Pot's Khymer Rouge regime, Mr Hamill was not surprised by Duch's claim he did not recall Mr Hamill's older brother Kerry.

Kerry Hamill is believed to have been one of a handful of Westerners killed in the camp between 1975 and 1979. Kerry Hamill's yacht strayed into Cambodian waters in 1978, and while exact details of his death remain unknown, he is believed to have been tortured and executed while in S21.

Duch has testified he carried out orders from the regime's late leader Pol Pot, and Mr Hamill said Duch continued with that defence when he gave the equivalent of a victim impact statement in Phnom Penh's Extraordinary Chambers of Courts of Cambodia.

"His out is that he was just taking orders. It was either that, or be killed himself."

An emotionally drained Mr Hamill said there was sense of relief at having made his statement, aimed at court judges and detailing the huge impact of his brother's death on the Hamill family. He was able to make extensive eye contact with Duch, who sat just metres from him.

"It was very difficult, but he was certainly very attentive," Mr Hamill said. "I didn't look at him that much when I was making my statement - I was really looking up at the judges."

Reading his statement from notes, Mr Hamill said he was able to look directly at Duch when he made "a couple of pointed comments", while Mr Hamill's wife Rachel noticed Duch nervously fidgeting during particularly emotional parts of her husband's testimony.

"I had some emotional moments in there," Mr Hamill said of his appearance, which lasted just under an hour. "I was wiping away a few tears as I was telling the story."

"Whenever I said things that were emotionally charged about him (Duch), he was shuffling, pretty nervy..."

Mr Hamill believed Duch to be a "very sharp cookie, playing the court really well". Mr Hamill was able to directly question Duch, and asked him how long his brother was interned for.

"But the answer I got was that he (Duch) didn't know...which was a bit disappointing. He just didn't remember."

"The longer Kerry was in there, the worse it would've been," Mr Hamill said. "I know he was in there for at least two months."

Mr Hamill said Duch recalled Kerry Hamill's British crewmate John Dewhurst, "and he just said they both were killed at the same time".

"He said specifically he remembered the British man, but not my brother. It is disappointing, and I find it hard to believe...they were brought in at the same time, two Westerners."

Mr Hamill said although somewhat surreal, events at the trial had transpired much as he had expected. While he had not neccessarily gained any more information about his brother's death, Mr Hamill said he felt it was significant to represent the estimated 17,000 people killed in the camp, and their families.

Feedback from lawyers participating in the trial was that Mr Hamill's statement and questioning had made a strong impact on the judges.

"It was pretty powerful, being in there, and being part of that. I really felt I got the message across that I wanted to."

The trip to Cambodia for the trial will be an integral part of a documentary on Mr Hamill's search for justice for his brother, entitled Brother No 1.

NEW ZEALAND PRESS ASSOCIATION

Rob Hamill confronts his brother's killer

Last updated 11:17 18/08/2009

Former NZ Olympic rower 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, said 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.

ABC (Australia)

Brother can't forgive Killing Fields torturer

By New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie

Posted Wed Apr 1, 2009 2:07pm AEDT
Updated Wed Apr 1, 2009 5:46pm AEDT

A New Zealand Olympian whose brother was murdered by the Khmer Rouge hopes justice will come from the Cambodian trial of Kaing Guek Eav, aka Comrade Duch, the boss of a torture prison where at least 12,000 people were killed.

Rob Hamill represented New Zealand in rowing at the 1996 Olympics.

Two decades earlier his brother Kerry had been captured and killed by the Khmer Rouge when his yacht blew off course and into Cambodian waters.

Kerry, who was 28 at the time, was tortured and killed at Duch's Tuol Sleng prison.

On Tuesday Duch took the witness stand in his UN-backed trial to say sorry for his actions.

But Mr Hamill says he cannot ever be forgiven.

"It rings a little hollow. I mean I think Duch... must have been an ambitious man," he said.

"He didn't get to be commandant of that prison by accident and from what I heard, my understanding in the research that I have conducted, suggests that he was ruthless and clinical and cruel.

"I am going through a process where our family hasn't grieved properly. Personally I want to be able to forgive but I can't do that."

Wondering, hoping, waiting

Mr Hamill said that for a long time, he did not know what happened to his brother.

"My brother was sailing his yacht, taking a charter from Singapore up to Bangkok and got blown off course and ended up in Cambodian waters [and] got captured by a Khmer Rouge gunboat," he said.

"One of the guys on the boat - there were three of them - one was killed at that time and my brother and other charter, a guy from England, were taken back to Tuol Sleng.

"He was a regular letter writer to us when he was in his travels and his adventures and enjoying life and living it to its fullest, and they just stopped.

"We didn't know what happened for a long time. It was a good year wondering, hoping, before we found out what happened."

Mr Hamill says his family found out about Kerry's disappearance through the media.

"[I was] reading an article in a paper and it was on a radio station that particular day, that information had been sourced through Interpol," he said.

"All the prisoners - there were about a dozen or so Westerners that were captured during that three-year period - all were made to sign confessions that they were CIA agents and Interpol had some documents that were confirmed as my brother's handwriting."

Facing a killer

Although Mr Hamill feels he should be in Cambodia to witness the trial, he says circumstances will not not allow it to happen.

But he says he will travel to Cambodia to give a statement in coming months.

"I don't know when. It depends on the court process but certainly I hope to face Duch and make a statement on behalf of our family and the effect he had on our family in the hope that it aids in some way the sentencing process," he said.

"I am just going to tell the story and will describe the pain, the anxiety, the hope, the desperate hope.

"I think that was really, really hard on my parents in particular and they paid for it too with their health."

Mr Hamill is unsure what punishment Comrade Duch should receive.

"I don't know what to expect from this. If I could bring myself to believing Duch's words, that he can somehow see the error in his ways, there may spring a strange comfort," he said.

"I don't know ultimately, but it needs to be done."


Olympian wanted to kill Khmer Rouge torture boss

By New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie

Posted Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:00am AEST

A New Zealand man whose brother was murdered by the Khmer Rouge has told a war crimes court in Cambodia that he felt like killing the boss of the torture prison where his brother died.

Olympic rowing great Rob Hamill's brother Kerry was one of three foreigners killed by the Khmer Rouge after their yacht was blown off course into Cambodian waters in 1978.

Mr Hamill slowly read out his victim impact statement as the prison's chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, stood trial in Phnom Penh.

He told Duch, who is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of 15,000 people, that he had ruined his family.

"At times I've imagined you shackled, starved, whipped and clubbed, viciously" he said.

Duch has admitted running the jail but insists he was not a big boss in the Khmer Rouge.

NEW ZEALAND HERALD (Associated Press (AP) story that ran internationally)

Brother of NZ victim rages at Khmer Rouge trial

7:09AM Tuesday Aug 18, 2009
By Sopheng Cheang

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The brother of a New Zealander tortured and killed by the Khmer Rouge three decades ago has told the man who ordered the execution that he wished him a similarly gruesome fate.

Kerry Hamill was 28 when his yacht was blown off course into Cambodian waters in 1978, and he was captured by the radical communist regime. He and a shipmate, Briton John Dewhirst, were taken to Phnom Penh's S-21 prison and later killed.

Kerry's brother, Rob, wept as he testified at the trial of S-21's commander, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch - the first of five senior Khmer Rouge defendants to be tried by a U.N.-assisted tribunal and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions.

"Duch, at times I have wanted to smash you, to use your words. The same way that you smashed so many others," Rob 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," said Hamill, referring to some of the horrors faced by prisoners.

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.

Rob Hamill, 45, a rower who represented New Zealand at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said his family learned of his brother's death 16 months after he disappeared. Their parents read in a newspaper that he was executed after two months at S-21.

"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," said Hamill.

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.
- AP

1 comment:

About Brother Number One

“Brother Number One” was the name that Pol Pot, the leader of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia, gave himself. Kerry Hamill was also “brother number one” the oldest boy in the large Hamill family of Whakatane, New Zealand. In 1978, the lives of the two “brother number ones” collided.

Kerry Hamill was on board his charter yacht Foxy Lady with two other men when they anchored at Koh Tang Island to shelter from a storm. Unbeknownst to them they had entered Kampuchean waters, neither did they know of the horror story that was unfolding on the mainland. They had sailed from the hippie era of “love and freedom” into Year Zero. Along with Englishman John Dewhirst, Kerry was seized and tortured for two months at the Khmer Rouge slaughter house, Tuol Sleng (S21). After signing confessions that “admitted” CIA affiliations, they were executed on Pol Pot’s orders. A third companion Canadian Stuart Glass was shot and killed when the boat was captured. Some would say he was the lucky one.

Our documentary Brother Number One follows Kerry’s younger brother Rob Hamill, an Olympic and Trans-Atlantic rowing champion, as he travels to Cambodia. Rob will attempt to discover the most probable scenario surrounding the capture, incarceration, and murders of his brother and sailing companions. He will travel with Cambodian translator Chantou, a survivor of the killing fields who will tell her story in parallel with Rob’s. Together they will explore the devastating impact of Pol Pot’s maniacal ideology—which saw 2 million killed through execution, starvation and sheer hard work. The film will interweave the history of Cambodia with their journey. The former French colony was sucked into the Cold War; bombed illegally by Nixon and Kissinger; suffered four years of Khmer Rouge brutality; was invaded by the Vietnamese; then in a twist of realpolitik, saw the greatest war criminals since the Third Reich aided and abetted by China, the US and the Western powers. Many Cambodians today remain ignorant of their history, their lives marked by poverty, HIV, and violence.

Rob’s journey will culminate in a confrontation in court with Kaing Khek Iav, better known as Comrade Duch, former Commander at S-21, who gave the final orders for Kerry and John to be tortured and killed. Up to 14,000 Cambodians met the same end in the notorious prison. After 30 years of impunity, Duch and four former “Brothers” are currently standing trial for Crimes Against Humanity, homicide and torture in the Extraordinary Court of Cambodia, a war crimes tribunal that was finally established this year after a decade of international wrangling.

The film will be directed by award-winning filmmaker Annie Goldson (Punitive Damage, Georgie Girl, An Island Calling) and produced by Pan Pacific Films.

Meet the Makers

Producer/Director: Annie Goldson is a filmmaker, whose award-winning feature documentaries – which include An Island Calling, Punitive Damage, Georgie Girl, Sheilas: 28 Years On, Pacific Solution and Elgar’s Enigma – have received over 30 awards internationally at film festivals. They have also been broadcast on most major channels, including HBO, PBS, ABC, SBS, Channel 4 (UK), ARD and others. An Island Calling (2008), funded by TV3/NZOA with an SBS presale, recently won Best Documentary and Achievement in Camera at the Qantas Film and Television Awards. Annie was also a finalist in the Achievement in Directing category. The documentary subsequently won Best Documentary and Best Director at the Madrid Lesgai International Film Festival, and the Grand Prix at FIFO, the Oceania Festival in Tahiti. The film premiered at Hotdocs in Toronto and screened at a number of international festivals including Sydney, Melbourne, FIPA, Seattle, Frameline and Newfest. She is also a writer and academic and received her PhD from the University of Auckland where she teaches in the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies. Annie received the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007 as recognition for services to film. As well as working on Brother Number One, she has a science series Mismatch: Why our world no longer fits our bodies in development for international broadcast.

Originating Producer: James Bellamy has worked in the film industry for over 24 years in a variety of roles, primarily as a documentary producer/director on award-winning documentary, arts and lifestyle series. He has completed three documentary features as an independent producer, which has involved him in extensive international production. He directed and produced Art in the Freezer to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Scott Base in Antarctica. The film was introduced on-air by Sir Edmund Hillary. Given this latter experience and his enthusiasm for longer-form documentary, James is now intending to dedicate himself to projects such as Brother Number One.

Key Documentary Subject/Producer: Rob Hamill rowed for New Zealand for 16 years winning World Championship Silver and Commonwealth Gold. He holds a world record on the indoor rowing machine and competed at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Rob is also a writer, publishing The Naked Rower, an account of how he and Phil Stubbs won the first trans-Atlantic Rowing Race in 41 days. Since his ocean adventure Rob has often considered tracing the wake left by his brother Kerry to discover what really happened in Cambodia. That time has come.