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Prosecution Demands Life for Duch

Appellants at Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal say the former jailer ‘showed no remorse.’
Cambodians attend Duch’s trial at the ECCC in Phnom Penh, March 29, 2011. AFP
Prosecutors at Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes tribunal have demanded a
life sentence for convicted former Khmer Rouge prison warden Duch,
saying he showed no remorse for his role in the slaughter of thousands
of his compatriots.

Duch, 68, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, was sentenced by the
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to 30 years in
prison last July for crimes against humanity, torture, and premeditated
murder as overseer of the notorious Tuol Sleng torture prison in the
late 1970s.

On the second day of a three-day appeal process, the prosecution on
Tuesday requested  the ECCC’s Supreme Court judges to order that Duch
be locked up for life.

Duch’s defense attorneys had appealed to overturn or reduce the sentence on Monday.

Co-prosecutor Andrew T. Cayley told the Supreme Court that the 30-year
sentence was inadequate because Duch would likely see his sentence
shortened due to a lengthy detention before his arrest.

“The prosecution requested the court to sentence [Duch] to life
imprisonment. But, because he had been illegally detained in the
military prison, we have no objection if the court rules in favor of
leniency,” Cayley said.

“However, whatever sentence the court decides, it should be according
to a timeframe proposed by the prosecutor that is … a 45-year sentence
or longer.”

Duch was detained in 1999 after he was found to be working as a
Christian aid worker in the jungle but was not formally arrested until
2007 and, because of time already served, could be set free in less
than 19 years.

The former jailer apologized for his part in the murders at Tuol Sleng,
also known as S-21, at his trial, but asked to be acquitted during his
closing statement in November 2009.

Cayley said Duch’s refusal to accept responsibility for the
mass-killings demonstrated that he “to this day lacks a real, sincere
remorse for what happened.”

The prosecution has also asked the court to add enslavement,
imprisonment, torture, extermination, rape and other inhumane acts to
Duch’s list of convictions.

Defense appeal

Meanwhile, defense lawyer Kong Ritheary said Tuesday that the ECCC
should reduce Duch’s sentence because of his illegal detention.

“Based on … the Cambodian Criminal Law, the minimum penalty is 15 years
and that should be sufficient because of the mitigating circumstances
recognized by the court,” he said.

Ritheary added that Duch had confessed to committing his crimes and
that he had been cooperative with the court during the investigation
and court proceedings.

On Monday, the defense team argued that Duch’s sentence should be
overturned because he was only following the orders of superiors and
therefore not subject to trial by a war crimes tribunal.

The same line of defense was used by Nazi war criminals during the
Nuremburg trials in the aftermath of World War II, but an International
Tribunal ruled that following orders did not absolve perpetrators of
their actions.

The ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber is expected to rule on the appeals in late June.

The Khmer Rouge operated its security apparatus in Phnom Penh out of
S-21 and thousands of inmates were taken from the prison for execution
in a nearby orchard.

The tribunal will try an additional four more members of the Khmer
Rouge regime later this year, and Duch will be called to appear as a
witness in the cases.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Sum Sok Ry. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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Categories: Khmer Rouge, Local News
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