Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch (or Deuch), was the first of Khmer Rouge officials to be put on trial for crimes of humanity. The Khmer Rouge is estimated to have killed as many as 1.7 million people from 1975-1979. The former schoolteacher was charged with overseeing Tuol Sleng prison, where at least 14,000 people were tortured, with such heinous methods as “live autopsies” or starved to death, according to Duch’s confession:
Mey recounts the tortures used to extract false confessions from prisoners and force them into implicating others as CIA spies. He was beaten with bamboo rods, forced to eat faeces, given electric shocks to his ears, and had his toenails ripped out with pliers. Others were waterboarded, hung upside down, and had their hands crushed in clamps. Children were thrown from third-storey balconies to their deaths. Prisoners were presumed guilty, effectively already dead, Duch has said.
Notes found in the Tuol Sleng prison he oversaw:
The notes record the results of 11 “experiments” with 17 prisoners, living and dead. They begin:”1. A 17-year-old girl, with her throat cut and stomach slashed, put in water from 7.55 p.m. until 9.20 a.m., when the body begins to float slowly to the top, which it reaches by 11.00 a.m. “2. A 17-year-old-girl bashed to death, then put in water as before, for the same period, but the body rises to the top at 1.17 p.m.”Similar details were recorded for “a big woman, stabbed in the throat, her stomach slashed and removed,” and “a young male bashed to death,” then “four young girls stabbed in the throat,” and “a young girl, still alive, hands tied, placed in water..”If Deuch didn’t write these lines, he knows who did. Someone should ask him.
Duch, now 67, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, only 19 of which he has to still serve. He could still be alive at the end of his prison term, which isn’t too bad of a situation to be in, as one victim bitterly complained to the New York Times: â€œHis prison is comfortable, with air-conditioning, food three times a day, fans and everything,â€ he said. â€œI sat on the floor with filth and excrement all around.â€
Not satisfied with that lenient sentence, Duch and his legal team are reportedly seeking an appeal. Earlier in the process, Duch’s French and Cambodian lawyers argued about whether to seek leniency or acquittal. It’s hard to decide who had the more execrable argument: Duch’s Cambodian lawyer, Kar Savuth, who argued that Duch should be freed because Duch wasn’t the only mass murderer and Tuol Sleng wasn’t even the worst of the prisons: “It would be better not to try anyone than to try some and leave others at large.”
From the NYT:
Duchâ€™s second lawyer, FranÃ§ois Roux, said Duch was part of a hierarchy of terror in which all the actors were in effect victims as well as perpetrators.
“It was because of the terror that every link in the chain of command acted zealously to please superiors,” Roux said.
Taking his argument of moral equivalence a step further, Mr. Roux said that just as Duch had dehumanized his victims, his accusers and victims were guilty of dehumanizing him.
â€œDuch remains a human being,â€ he said, addressing prosecutors. â€œMaybe there are certain points at which he has a bit of trouble admitting certain things. But maybe you as well have trouble admitting certain things.â€
Is there a Guinness World Record in a man’s ability to dodge responsibility? It makes you wish international standards and decorum could be set aside, as in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie or South Park episode, so that we could hear the judge respond justly and firmly with a simple, Fuck. You.