The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) today found Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and sentenced him to thirty-five years of imprisonment. Following an earlier decision of the Chamber of 15 June 2009, the Chamber considered that a reduction in the above sentence of five years was appropriate given the violation of Duch’s rights occasioned by his illegal detention by the Cambodian Military Court between 10 May 1999 and 30 July 2007. He is further entitled to credit for time already spent in detention, under the authority both of the Cambodian Military Court and the ECCC. The Chamber also decided that there were significant mitigating factors that mandated the imposition of a finite term of imprisonment rather than one of life imprisonment. These factors included cooperation with the Chamber, his admission of responsibility, limited expressions of remorse, the coercive environment in Democratic Kampuchea, and the potential for rehabilitation.
Duch, the first person to stand trial before the ECCC, served as Deputy and then Chairman of S-21, a security centre tasked with interrogating and executing persons perceived as enemies of Democratic Kampuchea by the Communist Party of Kampuchea. S-21 was operational between 1975 and 1979. The Chamber found that every individual detained within S-21 was destined for execution in accordance with the Communist Party of Kampuchea policy to “smash” all enemies. In addition to mass executions, many detainees died as a result of torture and their conditions of detention. Although finding a minimum of 12,272 individuals to have been detained and executed at S-21 on the basis of prisoner lists, the Chamber indicated that the actual number of detainees is likely to have been considerably greater.
To view the oral summary of the judgement see 20100726_Oral_Summary_Case_001_ENG
To see the ECCC press release see here – http://www.eccc.gov.kh/english/news.view.aspx?doc_id=360
Picture courtesy of the BBC website