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Duch Verdict Scheduled for July

The Khmer Rouge tribunal verdict for Kaing Kek Iev, the torture chief better known as Duch, will be announced July 26, court officials said Monday.

The verdict, which follows months of trials that began in late March 2009, will be the first of its kind for the UN-backed court, which currently has a delegation in New York to seek more funding.

Duch, now 67, was the head of Tuol Sleng prison, where up to 16,000 people were tortured and sent to their deaths. His trial, on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, lasted 77 days.

At the end of the trial, prosecutors asked for heavy condemnation for Duch’s crimes, as much as 40 years in prison.

Trial Chamber judges are working on finishing the verdict, but the date has been set, tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said Monday.

“We expect that by the end of July, everything will be ready to be handed down,” he said.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the verdict was a “historical affair” that needed time to be handled correctly.

But the announcement comes as a delegation is pushing for donor funding. The Cambodian side of the court is facing dire financial circumstances, and though donors have pledged another $85 million for two more years of court operation, few have transferred the money.