Cambodia: Khmer Rouge official accepts responsibility, asks for punishment

Updated On: Aug 13, 2009

The former chief of the Khmer Rouge's main torture camp asked the Cambodian people Wednesday to give him "the harshest punishment." He is being tried by a U.N.-supported tribunal on genocide charges.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, headed the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. He is the first of five senior Khmer Rouge figures to face long-delayed trials and the only one to accept responsibility for his actions. His trial, which started in March, is expected to conclude by the end of the year.

Duch is being tried for crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture. Up to 16,000 people were tortured under his command and later killed during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 rule. Only a handful survived. He later became an evangelical Christian and worked for international aid organizations.

"I accept the regret, the sorrow and the suffering of the million Cambodian people who lost their husbands and wives," he told the tribunal. "I would like the Cambodian people to condemn me to the harshest punishment."

He could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Cambodia has no death penalty.


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