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In Prayers, Duch Seeks Forgiveness

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch, who is charged with orchestrating the deaths of 12,380 people, told the UN-backed tribunal Tuesday that his faith in God, discovered after the fall of the regime, had helped him overcome his dark past.

“Every time I worship Jesus Christ, I always pray for all the Khmer Rouge victims,” Duch told the tribunal on Tuesday. “I never missed my prayers for the dead victims, even when I was in [military] prison,” he said, following a screening of a short video featuring him replaying his role as chief of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, became a Christian in the mid-1990s, prior to his 1999 arrest and detention in military prison. He said on his birthday every year he would make offerings, even when he was in jail, “to console the spirits of the dead.”

In response to Duch’s expression of remorse, the Trial Chamber’s chief judge, Nil Non said he could do that “later.”

Duch faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder for his role as Tuol Sleng’s administrator.

In Tuesday’s apology, Duch referred specifically to the family of a former professor, Phuong Ton, who was killed at Tuol Sleng after he returned from Europe.

Phuong Ton was a respected professor of international law, and one of his students, Kar Savuth, is currently a defense attorney for Duch.