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Khmer Rouge

July 26, 2010 by staff 

Khmer RougeKhmer Rouge, PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – The first commander of the Khmer Rouge to face a UN-backed tribunal was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday for overseeing 14,000 deaths in the 1970s, but it will serve about half the ire of many Cambodians.

Kaing Guek Eav, a former head of prison 67 years old, known as Duch, was less than the maximum of 40 years sought by the prosecution for his role in the ultra-communist “The Killing Fields” regime of guilt by a 7 million deaths from 1975 to 1979.

Duch was convicted of murder, torture, rape, crimes against humanity and other charges as head of Tuol Sleng prison, a converted school known as S-21, symbolizing the horrors of a regime that killed nearly a quarter of the population Cambodia.

He betrayed no emotion as a judge read the verdict, which reduced the sentence to 19 years for having been satisfied. He could be released on parole earlier if the authorities believe has been restored, according to the court.

“We expected that this court would strike hard at impunity, but if you can kill 14,000 people and serve only 19 years – 11 hours per year of life taken – what is that? It’s a joke,” said Theary Seng, a Cambodian which now has a U.S. citizen and the loss of his father in S-21.

“My gut tells me this has made the situation much worse for Cambodia,” he said. “It has taken a lot of faith out of the system and expressed concern about political interference.”

Duch told the court he had no choice but to execute orders and “do or die.” Prosecutors insisted it was “ideologically of the same opinion” as the main leaders of the Khmer Rouge and did nothing to stop the rampant torture in prison.

Some Cambodians wept after the verdict, expressing outrage at the court joint UN and Cambodia, which has grown to 78.4 million in donations from abroad more than five years to bring the first of the five officers accused Khmer Rouge to trial.

“No justice. I wanted a life sentence for Duch,” said Hong Sovath, 47, wept in the courtroom. His father, a diplomat, died in prison. Mony Khan, whose aunt was killed after going through the S-21, said he was devastated.

Thousands huddled around televisions in cafes and homes to see live broadcasts of the sentence.

Complex sentences

The court said it decided against life in prison for several reasons, including Duch expressions of remorse, cooperation with the tribunal, its “potential for rehabilitation” and the coercive environment of life under the Khmer Rouge.

“The camera has decided that there are significant mitigating factors that the mandate of finite prison term rather than life imprisonment,” presiding judge, said in a statement. Cambodia has no death penalty.

Now a born-again Christian, Duch has expressed “remorse unbearable” for the S-21 victims, most of them tortured and forced to confess to espionage and other crimes before being bludgeoned to death at sites of “The Killing Fields implementation silence “during the agrarian revolution, which ended with a 1979 invasion by Vietnam.

Foreign investors see the trials of Khmer Rouge as an indicator of whether the article of the law is taking root in one of the markets of Asia’s fastest growing border. Justice, however, could be difficult to achieve as pictures controversy surrounds others awaiting trial.

The cases of former President Khieu Samphan “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Tirith are very complex and politicized. Many fear that may not go to trial, or may die before seeing a courtroom.

Standing in the way of righteousness,anlysts say, is not only excessive bureaucracy and an elaborate legal process, but a one-party rule powerful than the court has never supported and has historic links to the Khmer Rouge .

Many former Khmer Rouge members are part of the Cambodian civil service and senior positions in provincial and central government and experts say they are willing to slow the progress of the court and limit the scope of future research.

Many years of Prime Minister Hun Sen, is himself a former Khmer Rouge foot soldier who says he defected to Vietnam’s eventual conquerors. He has warned of a new civil war if the court expands its probe into the horrors of “The Pol Pot’s Year Zero” revolution.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon has also admitted his involvement as an interpreter for the late Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot, leader, while Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has been accused of links and a Khmer Rouge detention center in the game. He denies the allegations.

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