30 Years Later, Khmer Rouge Goes on Trial

Prison warden accused of torture, murder of 20,000 in court
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2009 5:44 AM CST
30 Years Later, Khmer Rouge Goes on Trial
Prosecutors gather at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on the first day of a UN-backed tribunal Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.   (AP Photo/Adrees Latif, POOL)

Thirty years after the end of its reign of terror, the Khmer Rouge went on trial in Cambodia for the first time today. In the dock in Phnom Penh is the commander of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, which became a symbol of the brutality of Pol Pot's murderous regime. As the Times of London reports, the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, is a historic leap forward for the Southeast Asian nation.

The trial of Duch and four other Khmer Rouge leaders, for war crimes and crimes against humanity, is taking places under the joint auspices of the Cambodian justice system and the UN. From 1976 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge killed 1.7 million people in prison camps and the "killing fields" that littered the nation. "I feel hot inside, when I think of what he did," said one survivor of Tuol Sleng in the court today. "I want him to stay in prison forever." (More Khmer Rouge stories.)

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