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Prosecution push for lengthy prison sentence for Khmer Rouge jailer

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-24

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes court against the former prison chief "Duch" continued Tuesday, with prosecutors calling for the defendant to be handed a lengthy jail term.

The UN-backed war crimes court continued Tuesday in the final week for the trial of former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch. Prosecutors on Tuesday pushed for Duch to receive the maximum sentence - life in prison - for his role in the deaths of 15,000 men, women, and children in the Tuol Sleng “S 21” prison, which he ran from 1975-1979.
 
"It does not matter that others may not admit their guilt or fail to cooperate with authorities," prosecutor Chea Leang told the court.
  
These words were in response to Duch’s persistent calls for clemency on the grounds that he begs forgiveness and has cooperated with the court.
 
He has argued that he was not a leading figure in the 1975-1979 regime, and that he acted out of fear for his own safety and that of his family.
 
Leang also said, "It is simply inconceivable that anything other than a lengthy sentence of imprisonment should be imposed on him."
 
She said Duch held a unique, central role in the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and called on judges to reject defence suggestions he was a scapegoat for a regime which had a network of some 200 prisons across Cambodia.
 
Duch’s defense counsel will be in the dock Wednesday, where they are expected to repeat Duch’s pleas for clemency on the grounds of his cooperation and repeated apologies.
 
Crocodile tears
 
Lawyers for Khmer Rouge victims Monday accused the regime's jailer of duping Cambodia's war crimes court with "crocodile tears" as he faced final arguments over the "Killing Fields" atrocities.
 
Attorney Kong Pisey told judges that Duch had sought "to cleverly evade responsibility when it suits him" and wept "crocodile tears" in the dock.
  
"His aim was to keep his power," Kong Pisey said, speaking through an official translator.
  
"The cooperation with the court and his pretended truthful admissions is half-hearted."
 
Duch faces a maximum life sentence as the tribunal does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

A verdict is expected in March next year, following the processing of lengthy final submission documents.

Date created : 2009-11-24

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