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In Hearing, a Push for Longer Sentence in Duch Case

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who ran the notorious Toul Sleng detention center, greets court officers during his appeal at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom

Khmer Rouge tribunal prosecutors on Tuesday told a Supreme Court chamber of judges that the torture chief Duch had been given a sentence that did not match the graves crimes he was found to have committed.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, was sentenced to a commuted 19 years in prison by a lower chamber of the court, which found him guilty of atrocity crimes. But that sentence, knocked down from 30 years for excessive pre-trial detention and other reasons, left many victims upset.

This is the second day of hearings for Duch, who was tried in 2009 in the first test of the UN-backed court. These final hearings will mark the end of that case, as the Supreme Court Chamber determines whether the court had jurisdiction to try Duch, whether the sentencing was appropriate and whether civil parties to the case were properly compensated.

Prosecutors told the court Tuesday they want at least 45 years for the man they say oversaw the torture and execution of more than 12,000 Cambodians while the Khmer Rouge was in power.

International prosecutor Andrew Cayley told the court the lower chamber had made a mistake in its relatively short sentence. Duch deserved “45 years or more” for the crimes he was found guilty of, Cayley said Tuesday.

However, Duch’s defense team told the court that the sentencing for their defendant was helped by his cooperation with the tribunal and the fact that he was under orders to run the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where enemies of the regime were sent and later executed.

The defense claims that Duch was not one of the senior cadre in the Khmer Rouge, officially known as Democratic Kampuchea.

In earlier testimony in 2009, Duch apologized for the torture and executions that took place under his watch. He was found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and homicide.

Defense lawyer Kar Savuth told the court Monday he wanted the verdict nullified and for Duch to be released.

“Secondly I request that Duch's detention be only considered as an affair of
protection toward a potential witness, to show the senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea and those most responsible for the crimes committed in Tuol Sleng prison,” he said.

Kar Savuth said only seven cadre of the Khmer Rouge appointed four groups with the right to arrest or killed Cambodians, and “Duch was not among them.”

However, on Monday, Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang said Duch’s role as chief of the prison, which the Khmer Rouge called S-21, made him “most responsible” for those who were sentenced to death and executed at the nearby Choeung Ek site.