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First Khmer Rouge Official Goes on Trial

The first trial of a Khmer Rouge official began on Monday, where the former commandant of Tuol Sleng (SS-21) prison confessed to charges of systematic torture in a long indictment read by court officials in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

U.N. backed allegations against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as comrade Duch, also include crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the murder of at least 14,000 individuals.

Kaing is the first of five Khmer Rouge officials to be taken to court for one of the most horrific periods in recent history, in which 1.7 million people are reported to have died from hunger, disease, torture, and over-exhaustion from work during the late 1970s.

A Christian convert who has expressed remorse for his actions, Kaing has gone into great detail about what went on at the Tuol Sleng prison in his pretrial sworn statement. In his testimony, Kaing described the torture methods used which sometimes involved medical experiments and live autopsies.

The maximum sentence that can be issued to the Khmer Rouge officials on trial is life imprisonment.

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