Monday, July 26, 2010

Justice Denied in Cambodia? is reporting on the sentencing of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as "Duch," who headed Tuol Sleng, a prison in Cambodia reserved for enemies of the Khmer Rouge regime. OOTJ has published several posts on this subject. Duch is the first of the Khmer Rouge to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at a tribunal organized by the United Nations. After a seventy-seven-day trial, Duch was convicted of the crimes of which he was charged and sentenced to thirty-five years in prison. Many observers thought that a life sentence would have been appropriate given the gravity of his offenses. What has particularly distressed Cambodians is that Duch,who is sixty-seven years old, will probably serve only nineteen years because the tribunal took the following factors into consideration: the "regime was the product of the troubled Cold War times"; Duch was not a member of the Khmer Rouge's ruling elite; he cooperated with the court; and he admitted responsibility for his crimes. In addition, he was given credit for time already served and for illegal detention in a military prison. Weighing against him were his "'limited' expressions of remorse." Many feel that a nineteen-year sentence does not do justice to the 16,000 people whose deaths Duch oversaw. The tribunal was intended to help the Cambodian people move on from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge years, but this controversial sentence has instead opened up old wounds and further delayed the healing process. Has the sentence also undermined the credibiity of the tribunal? In addition to the article, the msnbc site has some features--a video and an interactive presentation about the Khmer Rouge era--that are very informative.

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