Comrade Duch, a veteran of the Khmer Rouge who was convicted of crimes against humanity in Cambodia, has died.
He was serving a life sentence after being convicted by a UN-backed court.
Keing Guek Eva, better known as Comrade Duch, ran the infamous Tulle Slenge prison where thousands of people were tortured and killed in the late 1970’s.
It is estimated that about two million people died under the Khmer Rouge, the Maoist ruler who controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Deutsch was the first senior Khmer Rouge leader to be convicted of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed tribunal in 2010 and convicted in 2012.
He died Wednesday at the age of 77, a spokesman for the tribunal said without elaborating on the cause. He was ill for many years.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokeswoman Neth Fektra said: “Duchess died in the early hours of September 2 at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital. I cannot say the cause of death.”
What happened in the Towel Challenge prison?
Comrade Dutch S-21 ran the prison, also known as the Tulle Slange, the most notorious place of torture during the Khmer Rouge regime.
It is estimated that at least 15,000 men, women and children were considered enemies and turned into former school prisons.
Most of them were tortured, forced to confess to fictitious crimes against the Khmer Rouge, and then killed in the so-called murder scene just outside the capital, Phnom Penh.
The detainees were initially accused of dishonesty by old government officials, the middle class and later members of the Khmer Rouge.
The guards, who were often teenagers, forced the detainees to write detailed confessions to the charges against them and involved friends and family, where they were imprisoned in turns.
Those who survived the torture were eventually taken to Choing One’s “killing field” where they were killed, sometimes after digging their own mass graves.
Fewer than a dozen inmates survived the Towel Challenge.
During his trial, the Dutch admitted that he was in charge of the S-21 and apologized for his part in the horrors that occurred there.
He later claimed that he was merely following the order, but for this reason his appeal was rejected by the tribunal.
Who was Khmer Rouge?
The brutal Khmer Rouge in power in 1975-1999 killed nearly two million people.
The government led by Pol Pot tried to bring Cambodia back to the Middle Ages, forcing millions of people from the city to work on communal farms in the countryside.
They target “intellectuals” identified as people wearing glasses.
Vietnamese troops overthrew the government in 1979, but Khmer Rouge leaders fled and hid in remote border areas.
The United Nations helped set up a tribunal to try surviving leaders, which began operating in 2009.
Only three former Khmer Rouge have been convicted – Comrade Duchess, then-President Khio Samphan and Pol Pot’s second-in-command, Nun Chia.
Who was Comrade Dutch?
Dutch was born in the early 1940s. He was a teacher but joined the Communist Party and his leftist activism caused a stir with the authorities.
When the Vietnam War threatened to spread to neighboring Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge, led by Dutch leader Pot Pot, joined the Communist rebels.
After the rebels took control in 1975, he became the director of Tiul Slange.
When the Khmer Rouge was ousted from power by an invasion of Vietnam in 1979, he fled to a village near the Thai border with other expelled leaders.
He was identified by a journalist in 1999 under a false name. In a subsequent interview, he acknowledged the brutality of Teul Slange, but said the order came from the Khmer Rouge Central Committee.
“Anyone who was arrested must die. That was our team’s rule,” he said. “We had the responsibility to interrogate and confess to the party’s central committee.”
Ten years later, in the face of a UN-backed tribunal, he described himself as “deeply remorseful” and apologized to relatives of his victims.
In the last days of his trial, he was told to be free, saying he was not a senior member of the Khmer Rouge classification.
Relatives of his victims said it was a mockery of his remorse.
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