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Comrade Duch’s Sentence Reduced

The U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal ruled that former Khmer Rouge torture chief Kang Guk Eav was detained “unlawfully” by the military and would be compensated for time served. The ruling means that Kang, better know as Comrade Duch, can no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

Duch is currently on trial for crimes against humanity in his role as the head of the notorius S-21 detention center in Phnom Penh from 1975 to 1979.

Duch had been facing life in prison for his role in the regime, but the tribunal’s legal communications officer, Lars Olsen, said that at least 10 years would be taken off the sentence, depending on how long the trial lasts.

“And he would also be entitled to additional remedies which the trial chamber in its decision today said they would address when the time for the sentencing would arise,” Olsen said. “That could be typically that he would get extra time off of a sentence because of his unlawful detention.”

Duch is the only official to face justice for crimes commited during the Khmer Rouge’s rule. He is also the only one to admit guilt, though Duch claims he never personally killed anyone.

Up to 2 million people Cambodian died from forced labor, execution and starvation during the Khmer Rouge’s brutal attempt to create a utopian, communist agrarian society.

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