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Phnom Penh is fairly compact and most sights are not far from the central riverfront area. You can walk, but be prepared for a fairly nerve-racking time dealing with the traffic. Alternatively, you can hire a tuk-tuk or motodup for the day. The Russian market is in the south of town away from the center. Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields can be visited together, and arrangements can be made at any hotel lobby.

The Khmer Rouge on Trial

As this information is being researched and written, the director of S21, Duch (pronounced Doik), is on trial in a distant suburb of Phnom Penh under the auspices of a UN tribunal. He was discovered purely by chance in 1999 by British photojournalist Nic Dunlop in the wild and western province of Samlot. Duch was working incognito for a Christian NGO and claimed to be "born again." He confessed to his role in the horrors of S21 and has been detained ever since. Duch is the first and the most junior of the accused to go before the court. They include Khieu Samphan, the public face of the Khmer Rouge; Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's brutal henchman and second in command; and Ieng Sary, the slippery foreign minister of the regime, who are also lined up for the dock. So is Ieng Sary's wife, Ieng Thirith, who was minister of social affairs and a key figure in the Khmer Rouge from the early days. This is nearly 4 decades after the perpetration of their murderous activities, and they are very old at this point.

Why has it taken so long and why is it happening now, and why is it just these few up for trial? The Khmer Rouge fought on until 1998. Through the '80s they were supported and funded by a coalition of Western powers, China, and Thailand. If the international community and the UN recognize the horror of what the KR did, legitimate questions of why they were endorsed by the very same powers need to be asked and those questions are awkward. Second, the present regime in Cambodia does not have clean hands. It is true that present prime minister Hun Sen was a Khmer Rouge officer in the '70s, but that is a red herring. He was part of the dissident Eastern Zone and basically a simple soldier. What is true however is that in the '90s when the KR started to surrender, faction by faction, many deals were made, including those concerning business over lucrative natural resources. There are many secrets surrounding the surviving members and few are innocent. To put them on trial could also put their benefactors on trial by proxy. What of the Khmers? Feelings are mixed. Some just see it as pointless and want to move on. Others see no justice since former Khmer Rouge live in their towns and villages and in some cases still terrify them. Others see a little justice as better than no justice at all. As ever in Cambodia, the water remains very muddy indeed.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.