Duch, the lone prisoner

10 September 2007 by Anne-Laure Porée

Sixty-five-year-old Kaing Kek Ieu, alias Duch, was indicted for crimes against humanity on July 31 by the investigating judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and placed in custody in one of eight newly opened cells. Of the five suspects identified by the prosecutor in July, Duch is the only one to be officially known, indicted, and detained.

This comes as no surprise. Duch was director of the S-21 detention and torture center in Phnom Penh from 1975 to 1979, where anyone suspected by the secret police of conspiring against the party was taken. Duch ran the prison methodically and without scruples. Most prisoners were first tortured to obtain "confessions" and the names of supposed accomplices before being systematically executed. The Documentation Center of Cambodia estimates that between 14,000 and 17,000 people were killed at S-21. Given the extensive documentation and testimonies that exist regarding the running of S- 21, this should prove one of the easier cases to try.

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