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Prosecutors To Appeal 'Light' Duch Sentence

Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal plan to file an appeal in what they call a light sentence for prison chief Kaing Kek Iev.

Better known as Duch, the Tuol Sleng prison administrator was given a commuted sentence of 19 years for his role in the torture and execution of more than 12,000 people.

In an announcement to the court of Monday, the prosecutors said they saw “insufficient weight” to the sentence in relation to the crimes Duch was accused of.

“The Co-Prosecutors will be requesting that the Supreme Court Chamber increase the sentence against Duch, enter separate convictions for all charges proved, and further enter a conviction recognizing the enslavement of the majority of detainees at S-21,” they wrote, using the Khmer Rouge nomenclature for the prison.

The note cited crimes against humanity, imprisonment, torture, rape extermination and other inhumane acts.

The prosecutors have 60 days to officially file their appeal, Lar Olsen, the UN-backed court's legal affairs spokesman, said Monday. “After that, and when all parties have filed their appeal, then of course the Supreme Court can start planning when they will have a hearing,” he said.

During Duch's trial, the court's first, prosecutors sought 40 year imprisonment. But court judges decided on 35 years, which they knocked down to 19 years for leniency and time served.

“I support the prosecution,” Tuol Sleng survivor Bou Meng said Monday. Bou Meng was among those victims unhappy with the relatively short sentence. “I wish he would stay in jail for perpetuity.”

Attorneys representing more victims say they will appeal for reparation for so-called civil party participants who were left out following the verdict.

Meanwhile, the tribunal's second case is moving to towards a trial. Investigating judges said Friday they are set to issue their closing order in mid-September, setting the stage for a trial in March 2011.

That closing order will also determine whether Duch is among those tried for atrocity crimes, including genocide, for broader Khmer Rouge policies beyond his administration of Tuol Sleng. Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith are currently in custody.