The man accused of murdering and torturing more than 14,000 people in Cambodia has taken the stand in the first trial of a top Khmer Rouge leader.
Kaing Guek Eav — infamously known as Comrade Duch — is charged with crimes against humanity, enslavement, sexual abuse and other inhumane acts while head of the notorious S-21 prison. Addressing the court, the 66 year-old said he was aware of the case against him. The sometime maths teacher is the first of several Khmer Rouge leaders to appear before the UN backed tribunal. For survivors, the appearance of Duch brings back horrific memories. One victim said: ‘‘When I saw him I was angry and happy. Angry because he killed my wife. Happy because there is now a court to punish him.’‘ Dubbed Pol Pot’s chief torturer, Duch, who has expressed remorse for the S-21 victims, faces a maximum of life in prison, as Cambodia has no death penalty. The brutal Maoist regime, which carried out it’s ‘Year Zero revolution’ to achieve an agrarian utopia, is blamed for nearly 2 million deaths during the 1970’s.