Khmer Rouge Chief Asks for 'Harshest Punishment'

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 12, 2009 7:02 AM CDT
Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, former chief of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, is seen on a screen during his trial, July 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
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(Newser) – The former head of the Khmer Rouge's main torture center asked the Cambodian people today to give him "the harshest punishment." Kaing Guek Eav, alias "Duch," who headed the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, made the statement during his UN genocide trial, after a widow wept before the court, demanding justice for the death of her husband and four children.

"I accept the regret, the sorrow, and the suffering of the million Cambodian people who lost their husbands and wives," the defendant said. "I would like the Cambodian people to condemn me to the harshest punishment." Up to 16,000 were tortured under Duch's command. Later he became an evangelical Christian and worked for international aid organizations, but he says his crimes were "like the death of an elephant which no one can hide with only two tamarind tree leaves."