KHMER ROUGE EXECUTIONER 'COMRADE DUCH’ DIES AT 77
The Khmer Rouge commander who oversaw the deaths of thousands of people during the Cambodian genocide, and who was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity, has died at age 77, Helen Regan reported for CNN on September 2, 2020.
Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known by his alias, Comrade Duch, died just after midnight on Wednesday at a hospital in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, according to a spokesperson for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Neth Pheaktra, who made the announcement on Twitter.
Duch was a senior figure in Pol Pot's regime and ran the notorious Tuol Sleng S-21 torture prison in Phnom Penh, where at least 14,000 people died. At least 1.7 million people -- nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population -- died from execution, disease, starvation and forced labor under the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country between 1975-1979.
Many of those killed were intellectuals or trained professionals -- people considered counter-revolutionaries by the Khmer Rouge leadership bent on turning Cambodia into a purely agrarian society through ruthless social engineering policies. Duch was the first Khmer Rouge commander to be convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention by a United Nations-backed tribunal in 2010. He was handed a life sentence in 2012 after losing an appeal in which he argued that he was just following orders of senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. At his trial, Duch -- then a born-again Christian -- pleaded guilty to his crimes and apologized to the victims' families, asking for their forgiveness.