Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Sentenced 19 Years

Khmer Rouge chief jailer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for his part in the killing of 16,000 people during the regime’s four-year rule of Cambodia.

Duch was originally sentenced 35 years, but the penalty was reduced in recognition of the 11 years he has already served, as well as five years of illegal detention. A U.N.-backed tribunal defended the relatively lenient sentence for one convicted of crimes against humanity, saying that Duch had cooperated in the investigation and that the 67-year-old had expressed regret for his role in the killings.

However, families of the victims were disappointed with the sentence, which they said was fit for someone who had killed only one person. The Documentation Center of Cambodia said any length of prison term would not suffice, but the organization, which was in the forefront of collecting evidence against Duch, also expressed relief that the Khmer Rouge figure is finally made officially accountable for the crimes.

Duch was the prison chief of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison or S-21, where thousands of the over 1 million people who died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge were tortured and killed.