Cambodia's United Nations-backed tribunal is hearing charges against a
former Khmer Rouge prison chief. The former Khmer Rouge official has admitted he
played a role in the torture and execution of thousands of innocent
The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch", opened Monday, with charges against him read out in court.
The former chief of Phnom Penh's Tuol Sleng prison is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder.
court official says that Duch confirms the use of torture within the
prison was systematic and that anyone taken for interrogation would
likely be tortured.
At least 12,000 Cambodians were tortured at
Tuol Sleng, under Duch's supervision, accused of being traitors to the
Khmer Rouge and communism. Most were later executed. Some of them
were beaten to death with iron bars.
Duch is the only former
Khmer Rouge official to admit responsibility for atrocities committed
during their brutal 1970s rule and the first to show remorse.
Dunlop is a freelance journalist who discovered Duch in 1999, hiding
near the Thai border and using a fake name. He tells VOA it is
difficult to assess whether Duch's regret is genuine.
us, anyway, that he began to feel bad about what was occurring in his
prison at that time towards the end," Dunlop said. "Very much towards
the end, like merely a matter of months before the Vietnamese came and
liberated Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge. So, it's very difficult to
Later this week, Duch is scheduled to make a statement in
which his lawyers say he will express some responsibility and shame for
what he has done.
The trial, which technically started in
February, is expected to last several months. If he is found guilty,
the 66-year-old could face life in prison.
There are four other, more senior, Khmer Rouge leaders in custody who are expected to go on trial later this year.
tribunal has been plagued by allegations of corruption and political
interference to limit the number of former Khmer Rouge leaders brought
Up to two-million Cambodians died under the Khmer
Rouge and its fanatical leader, Pol Pot, who died before he could be
brought to trial.