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Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison

By: The Mirror Posted: July-28-2010 in
The Mirror

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Phnom Penh: The former Tuol Sleng Prison chief Kaing Kek Eav was sentenced by the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to serve 35 years in prison, but this verdict was criticized in the general public, especially by victims of the Tuol Sleng prison.

“In the morning of 26 July 2010, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [ECCC] opened a hearing to announce the verdict in Case 001, on the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief Kaing Kek Eav. About 1,000 citizens and victims of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, as well as about 100 national and international reporters, participated in the event.

“During the announcement of the verdict, after the conclusion of the procedures had been announced at 11:05, the head of the trial chamber, Judge Nel Non, ordered Duch to stand up and he announced that after considering the evidence and all considerations from all sides, the trial chamber concluded that Kaing Kek Eav is guilty according to Article 5 and 6, and the new Article 26 of the ECCC about crimes against humanity and about the mistreatment of political prisoners, including the crimes against humanity of massacre as well as slaughter, slavery, detention, torture, and one rape case, as well as other inhuman acts, and a severe abuse against the Treaties of International Humanitarian Law, signed in Geneva on 12 August 1949.

“Judge Nel Non added that, based on the reasons mentioned in the judgment, the trial chamber does not consider any culpability of the accused over the allegation of genocide which violates Article 501, 506, and 500 of the criminal code of Cambodia of 1956 that can be prosecuted at the trial chamber, following the new Article 3 of the ECCC. He stressed that to determine the appropriate punishment, the trial chamber, considering all circumstances of the case, valued the burden of each punishment, including the atrocities committed against 12,273 victims, and the trial chamber considered also that there should be a reduction of the punishment of the sentence for the accused through a prison term with a limited period rather than to sentence him to life imprisonment. The reduction of the penalty is based on the cooperation of the accused with the trial chamber, his recognition of his responsibility, and his expression of remorse; therefore, the trial chamber decided to jail Kaing Kek Eav for 35 years. However, this verdict was strongly criticized by some victims of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, while some are satisfied with it.

“Mr. Chum Mey, a victim of the Democratic Kampuchea regime who was under Duch’s control in the Tuol Sleng prison, told journalists that this tribunal has proceeded well since the start by allowing victims to visit the Tuol Sleng criminal center twice a week. But he regretted that the judges announced a verdict to sentence Duch only for 35 years in jail.

“Also a citizen from Kompong Speu, who went to watch the announcement of the verdict in the morning of 26 July 2010, said that he is satisfied with the verdict announced by the judges, because within 35 years, Duch might die in jail, as he is now already 68 years old. Other citizens who attended the event expressed also similar ideas.

“Ms. Hong Savath, 47, participating in the announcement of the verdict of Case 001 of the former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, alias Duch, cried until she almost fainted, when she had heard the verdict announced by the judges to convict him to 35 years in prison. She said that she wanted Duch to serve the rest of his life in prison, because her parents were killed and raped in the Tuol Sleng prison during Duch’s time in office.

“The spokesperson of the ECCC, Mr. Reach Sambath, said that morning during a press conference after the pronouncement of the verdict, ‘Today, the ECCC created an important historical milestone for the Cambodian people; this is the first time that a verdict was made against a person who committed serious crimes during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, after it was overthrown on 7 January 1979.’ He added that also in 1979, a verdict had been announced, but it was different in the point that those who were considered highly responsible for serious crimes were not present to answers to the accusations, as it happened in the present hearings. Since this court was established in 2006, Cambodian people in the whole country have observed and studied the procedural proceedings applied this time.

“Mr. Reach Sambath added that at the hearing during the announcement of the verdict of Duch, in the morning of 26 July 2010, there were about 1,000 persons attending, while millions of other citizens were watching and listening to the live broadcast on all television channels and on many radio stations, sharing the information nationwide.

“A co-prosecutor of the ECCC, Ms. Chea Leang, said during the press conference that such a decision is a historic event for Cambodia. It is more than 30 years since the Khmer Rouge Regime had fallen from power and was forced to stop its violence. Nothing can eliminate the pain and misery of many citizens and their families, but the verdict represents now a trustworthy legal action toward war crimes which were committed as a policy of the Khmer Rouge.

“Ms. Chea Leang went on to say that the co-prosecutors are considering to appeal the verdict on Case 001, checking whether it is acceptable or not.

“According to the announcement of the ECCC, Kaing Kek Eav is the first person brought for sentencing at the ECCC. Kaing Kek Eav used to be deputy chief, and later on chief of the S-21 Center, a security center with the duty to interrogate and kill any persons suspected by the communist party to be enemies of the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

“It should be noted that the verdict of former Tuol Sleng Prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, called Duch, for 35 years imprisonment, starts to count from the day of his arrest on 10 May 1999. But considering the cooperation of the accused and his recognition of his acts, 5 years are reduced, so that 30 years remain. Therefore, starting from the day of his arrest, Duch has still to serve only 19 years in prison, counting from the pronouncement of the verdict on 26 July 2010. Compared with the former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov [convicted to about 100 years in prison], Duch received a lower punishment.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2311, 27.7.2010

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675 - Tuesday, 26.7.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror

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