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'Killing Fields' torturer on trial in Cambodia

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 29, 2009 | Last Updated: 13 years ago
Posted: Mar 29, 2009 | Last Updated: 13 years ago

PHNOM PENH: The trial of the accused chief Khmer Rouge torturer kicked off on Monday (March 30) at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, faces charges of war crimes, torture and homicide for his role as chief of the notorious S-21 prison. At least 14,000 men, women and children passed through its barbed-wire gates but only a handful survived.

The ex-commandant of the prison is the first senior Pol Pot cadre to be tried by the “Killing Fields” court, three decades after the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians.

The U.N.-backed trial began with the accused confirming his personal particulars and being informed of his rights.

“When I entered the revolution, I used my own name, known as Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch. Duch is my name during the revolution,” he said when asked. “I have received the notification of charges.”

Duch then listened as charges against him were read.

His lawyers have argued Duch was only following orders and should not be made a scapegoat for the Khmer Rouge era.

Survivors, former guards and Khmer Rouge experts are expected to testify against Duch, a born-again Christian who has asked for forgiveness for

the deaths of thousands of the “enemies of the revolution”.

Duch is the first of five former, senior Khmer Rouge officials to face the panel of five Cambodian and international judges.

No trial dates have been set for the others, who include “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, former president Khieu Samphan, former foreign

minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith.

There is no death penalty in Cambodia and the five Khmer Rouge cadres charged with various crimes against humanity could get life sentences if

convicted by the court. -REUTERS

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