Phnom Penh: Prosecutors of the first Khmer Rouge commander to face a UN-backed trial appealed on Monday against his prison sentence which they said was too lenient for a man who oversaw up to 14,000 deaths in Cambodia in the 1970s.
Kaing Guek Eav, 67, a former prison chief better known as Comrade Duch, received less than the maximum 40 years sought by prosecutors for his role in the ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime blamed for 1.7 million deaths in the "killing fields" of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
He was jailed for 35 years but faces about half that because of time already served and in compensation for a period of illegal detention.
"Prosecutors are of the view that the judgment gives insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch`s crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes," the prosecutors said in a statement.
Duch was found guilty of murder, torture, rape, crimes against humanity and other charges as chief of Tuol Sleng prison, a converted school known as S-21 that symbolised the horrors of a regime that wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia`s population.
He had told the court he had no choice but to carry out orders and "kill or be killed”. Prosecutors insisted he was "ideologically of the same mind" as the Khmer Rouge`s top leaders and did nothing to stop rampant torture at his prison.
Following the verdict, many Cambodians expressed anger at the joint UN-Cambodian court, which has spent USD 78.4 million of foreign donations over five years to bring the first of five indicted Khmer Rouge officials to trial.
The prosecutors said Duch should be separately convicted of crimes against humanity, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, extermination, and other inhumane acts, and that these were improperly combined with crimes of persecution and torture.
In its July 26 verdict, the court said it had decided against life in prison for several reasons, including Duch`s expressions of remorse, cooperation with the court, his "potential for rehabilitation" and the harsh life under the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia does not have capital punishment.