Khmer Rouge Hearings Begin
Head of Cambodian prison charged with war crimes, torture, premeditated murder
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2009 10:33 AM CDT
A Cambodian watches a live television feed of a UN-backed tribunal as it begins Monday, March 30, 2009, at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.   (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
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(Newser) – One of the most feared figures of Pol Pot's fanatical regime in Cambodia has begun to tell his story on the witness stand as hearings begin in his trial, reports the Los Angeles Times. The former head of a Khmer Rough prison, Kaing Khev Iev—known as Duch—is charged with crimes against humanity, torture, murder, and war crimes.

Although Duch is expected to offer a full confession, tribunal rules prevent him from pleading guilty. Observers expect Duch, who oversaw the torture and execution of 12,000 men, women, and children, to claim that he would have been killed if he hadn't followed orders. "Even if he says that he is sorry," says one survivor, "he lives while so many were killed."