Former Khmer Rouge executioner gets 19 years for genocide

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 By

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where Comrade Duch presided over the murder of thousands. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Decades after the Khmer Rouge regime terrorized Cambodia, one of the  Khmer Rouge trials has concluded. Notorious hatchet man for the regime, Kang Kek Iew or Kaing Guek Eav, or “Comrade Duch,” was captured in 1999 and put on trial before a Cambodian tribunal. The trial of the man who presided over more than 17,000 executions has concluded. He was credited for time served, and sentenced to 19 years.  Survivors of the Khmer Rouge and the bereaved of the executed are outraged at the comparatively light sentence.

Khmer Rouge warden killed thousands

The Khmer Rouge regime came to power in 1975. Led by Pol Pot, they sought to eradicate the middle class and create an isolated agrarian collectivist utopia. The regime immediately set about executing anyone they considered opponents, including educators, intellectuals, and even people that wore  glasses.  Kaing Guek Eav was the head of security for the state police, the Santebal, and ran the notorious Tuol Sleng Prison, also called S-21. Over 17,000 inmates were sent to Toul Sleng to be tortured and executed. Only 12 survived a trip to Toul Sleng.

Capture and trial

Many Khmer Rouge personnel scattered after the regime was toppled in 1979. Pol Pot lived in a jungle retreat and was confined to house arrest until his death in 1998. Several other high-ranking Khmer Rouge party members are still on trial. Kaing Guek Eav was discovered living under a pseudonym in the late 90s, near the Cambodian border of Thailand and surrendered in 1999. A long trial process began with the Khmer Rouge tribunals. He was convicted of crimes against humanity, and on July 26 2010, he was credited for 11 years of time served and five years of pretrial detention against a 35-year sentence. He will serve 19 years in prison, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Brace yourself, my dear

People who lived under the Khmer Rouge are appalled at the sentence, according to the BBC. Millions perished under the Khmer Rouge, and he may live long enough to be released. Present at his trial was Chum Mey, one of three living survivors of Toul Seng. His wife and children were tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. He said that “millions of people died, a lot of money has been spent on the court – and the perpetrator is free (in 19 years)? I am not happy with that.”

Further Reading

Khmer Rouge

Christian Science Monitor

BBC

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