The trial of a former prison chief under Cambodia’s infamous Khmer Rouge regime has begun its final arguments. Charged with crimes against humanity, the so-called Comrade Duch is the first high-ranking official of Pol Pot’s Maoist regime to be tried.
Duch ran the notorious S-21 prison in Phnon Penh, where thousands were tortured and killed, he has insisted he was only following orders. Speaking on behalf of those in the case against Duch, Karim Khan said: ‘‘Even today, the accused has sought to evade or minimise his role and the reality, the awful reality, that was S-21.’‘
Duch has admitted running the jail where at least 14,000 prisoners ended up. Most were tortured and then often taken away and murdered. Lawyers for the victims’ families and the few remaining survivors of S-21 want the maximum sentence for Duch — life imprisonment.
The tribunal is seeking justice for almost two million people who suffered torture, slavery, disease and malnutrition at the hands of the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s.