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.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.