Cambodian Documentary Video: Former Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Apologises

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Former Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Apologises

As we have been reporting, a former Khmer Rouge prison chief is currently on trial in Cambodia. He's apologised for thousands killed at his prison, but still faces charges of crimes against humanity.
Security is tight outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as people trickle in for day three of Duch's trial.

The chief jailer who worked under Pol Pots Communist regime publicly apologised for the 14,000 people who brutally died at his S-21 prison, making him the first senior Khmer Rouge cadre to accept blame.

The 66-year-old former teacher is the first of five cadres to face the tribunal set up to prosecute those deemed "most responsible" for the 1975-79 reign of terror, which killed about 1.7 million people.

Despite the apology, at least one local observer still cannot fill the void caused by the death of loved ones.

[Kong Vuthy, Observer]:
"I think that he cannot be given forgiveness because he destroyed our humanity."

Human rights groups say more ex-Khmer Rouge leaders should face justice, but Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander himself, would rather see the tribunal fail.

Pol Pot's death in 1998 was followed by a formal Khmer Rouge surrender that helped usher in a decade of peace and stability. Since then, only five Khmer Rouge leaders have been charged by the tribunal. The other four still to face trial deny any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say Duch oversaw the torture of inmates forced to confess to spying and other crimes, before they were taken to the "Killing Fields" outside the capital Phnom Penh. More than 14,000 died.

Advocates of the tribunal - formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia - hope it will usher in a new era of peace and justice.

Final ruling from the court on the additional cases is still pending.

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