28 November 2009
Comrade Duch asks to be released? Let him rot
Comrade Duch (also known as Kang Guek Eav) who was in charge of the Tuol Sleng prison under the Khmer Rouge has been on trial in Cambodia. He has admitted responsibility for the torture and murder of more than 12,000 people. Yesterday he had the brass neck to ask to be acquitted and released.
According to the Guardian, Comrade Duch, asked the judges to consider his co-operation with the court and the 10 years he had already served in jail and set him free. In the last sentence of his final summing up, he said: "I would ask the chamber to release me, thank you very much."
The request came just two days after he told the court he was ultimately accountable for the deaths that occurred while he headed the Khmer Rouge's Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh. "I am solely and individually responsible for the loss of at least 12,380 lives," he said.
Duch's request enraged Bou Meng, one of only a dozen prisoners to walk out of Tuol Sleng alive. He stormed from the public gallery, describing Duch's plea as an insult to his wife's memory. "I could not accept the request for the release by Duch, because many people, including my wife, have been killed during the Khmer Rouge time. He cannot step on the victims like this."
The prosecutor, William Smith, said outside court that he was surprised by Duch's last-minute change of heart. "The fact that he entered a request for an acquittal reinforces in our mind that his remorse is limited."
The prosecution has asked for 40 year's jail for Duch, 67. He will be sentenced next year.
Outside court, Dara Chey, a student who lost four relatives during the Khmer Rouge years, said Duch's request for acquittal cast doubt on his earlier apology. "I do not believe him when he says he is sorry any more. He is just trying to get out of jail. He should never be allowed out. Cambodians will not be happy if he ever walks free."
To even consider releasing a butcher like Comrade Duch is an insult to the memory of all of those who were murdered during the insane rule of the Khmer Rouge. I hope he dies in prison very old and very lonely.