The terror of the Khmer Rouge’s reign in Cambodia will be revisited this week when the first of several trials of former leaders of the regime begins.
Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, is accused at the UN-backed tribunal of running a prison camp where thousands were tortured and killed in the late 1970s. The 66-year-old faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and homicide while in charge of the infamous S-21 jail in Phomh Penh. Duch, who was arrested in 1999, confessed to his crimes after becoming a born-again Christian. The trial will be closely watched by victims. One survivor said: “I want to ask Duch why he brought people to be tortured or killed and what did I do that made him torture me here? My children, wife, all were killed?” The rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia was one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century. An estimated 1.7 million people were killed in the group’s attempt to create an agrarian Utopia. Leader Pol Pot died in 1998 but it has taken more than a decade to bring his alleged henchmen to trial.