In a new and long review, JCA co-editor Geoffrey Gunn reviews Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer, by Alexander Laban Hinton and published by Duke University Press in 2016.
The book examines the crimes considered by the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the
Courts of Cambodia in dealing with Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity and inhumane acts. Gunn notes that, “[r]anging back to the 1980s, the process of bringing the perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide to trial has been labyrinthine, plagued by setbacks, resignations and manipulations, including even in the
selection of trial candidates.”
The subject of this book is “Duch,” born Kaing Guek Eav, alias Hang Pin, who joined in the dock, five senior surviving DK leaders, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith. Duch was “otorious as head of the S-21 incarceration chamber at the (now museum) Tuol Sleng site in Phnom Penh…”.
Gunn concludes that:
Hinton has written a commendable work offering a new standard in the field of ethno-dramatisation linked to the performative realm of an international tribunal where the hybrid nature of the court against the background of a shattered Buddhist society rebuilding from the ashes makes for real spectacle. The book under review could be compared to Chandler’s classic Voices From S-21, yet with the hindsight of the ECCC trial, Hinton has gone further than previous studies, his own included, with his exploration of the psyche of one individual who also met the international legal principle of extended collective responsibility. His book also stands out for its literary and philosophical innovations.