Closing arguments in Duch case before ECCC 27 Nov 2009
The parties have presented their final statements in the case of Kaing Guek Eav “Duch” before the ECCC in Cambodia.

In closing remarks during the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, alias “Duch”, the accused has requested that the judges acquit him, despite having earlier admitted his guilt and expressed remorse for his actions.

Duch, a former Khmer Rouge prison chief, is accused of directing the Security Prison S-21 in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Under Duch’s authority, countless horrors and killings were  committed against the civilian population, which occurred within a political context of widespread or systematic abuses constituting crimes against humanity. Duch is the first accused to go on trial at the specially constituted Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a hybrid UN/Cambodian court established to try commanders of the Khmer Rouge regime.

“A revolutionary, a crusader…”

Earlier in the week, the co-prosecutors at the ECCC had sought a period of imprisonment of 40 years for Duch. The prosecutors urged the judges to dismiss Duch’s claims that he acted under duress and that as a low level member of the Khmer Rouge was simply a “cog in a machine”. On the basis of the same reasoning, Duch requested that he be acquitted and released due to the fact that he was not a senior leader of the Khmer Rouge. However, lead prosecutor, William Smith told the court “the accused was neither a prisoner, nor a hostage, nor a victim. He was an idealist, a revolutionary, a crusader... prepared to torture and kill willingly for the good of the revolution”.

The prosecutors did not seek the maximum term of life imprisonment due to the unlawful nature of Duch’s pre-trial detention as well as the accused’s demonstration of contrition.

Proceedings against Duch began on 17 February 2009 and closing statements began on 25 November 2009. The Court is expected to deliver its verdict in early 2010.

Four senior Khmer Rouge leaders are also in custody awaiting trial before the ECCC, ex-president Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, as well as "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea.

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

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