Khmer Rouge trial prosecutors seek long jail term for Duch

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 11:48

Phnom Penh: Prosecutors called Tuesday for the former Khmer Rouge prison chief to receive a long jail term for his role in the "Killing Fields" atrocities as they delivered final arguments in his trial.

Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Duch -- has admitted responsibility and apologised repeatedly for his role in the horrors of Cambodia`s hardline communist regime, which killed up to two million people in the 1970s.
But prosecutors at the UN-backed court argued that 67-year-old Duch "was the personification of ruthless efficiency" and the "perfect candidate" to run the movement`s model political prison.

"It does not matter that others may not admit their guilt or fail to cooperate with authorities," prosecutor Chea Leang told the court.

"It is simply inconceivable that anything other than a lengthy sentence of imprisonment should be imposed on him."

Duch faces a maximum life sentence as the tribunal does not have the power to impose the death penalty. A verdict is expected in March next year, following the processing of lengthy final submission documents.

During his nine-month trial, Duch has begged forgiveness for overseeing the murders of around 15,000 men, women and children at the S-21 or Tuol Sleng prison, a former high school in the capital Phnom Penh.

He has argued that he was not a leading figure in the regime and that he acted out of fear for his own safety and that of his family.

Tuol Sleng was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and inmates were taken from there during Duch`s tenure for execution at nearby Choeung Ek, an orchard now known as the "Killing Fields".
Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for one of the worst horrors of the 20th century, wiping out nearly a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork and execution.

Duch has been detained since 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle, and was formally arrested by the tribunal in July 2007.

Pol Pot died in 1998. The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011, while the court is considering whether to open cases against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 11:48

comments powered by Disqus