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Tuol Sleng Survivors Await Final Duch Verdict

A tourist takes a photo of a painting depicting how Tuol Sleng prisoners were tortured by Khmer Rouge soldiers.

Three former survivors of the Khmer Rouge prison Tuol Sleng, are anxiously awaiting a final hearing on its chief administrator, Kaing Kek Iev, later this month.

The Supreme Court Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal will have a final hearing in the case of Kaing Kek Iev, 68, the former regime cadre better known as Duch, beginning March 28.

“I’m impatiently waiting for this hearing,” said Bou Meng, one of three survivors of the torture center where more than 12,000 people were tortured and sentenced to execution. “I will be consoled if Duch is sentenced to life.”

One question Supreme Court judges will face in the three-day hearing is whether a commuted sentence of 19 years handed down by the Trial Chamber of the UN-backed court is appropriate.

“He killed thousands of people,” said Chhum Mey, another survivor of Tuol Sleng. “How can he be sentenced to 19 years?”

Like Bou Meng, Chhum Mey wants to see a life sentence from the Supreme Court’s decision.

“A life sentence will set an example for the history of Cambodia, for the next generation, no to repeat the horror,” he said.

Chhum Mey said he would like to see the court order reparations for victims by commissioning a memorial stupa to be built within Tuol Sleng, now a genocide museum.

Van Nath, who survived Tuol Sleng by painting portraits of Khmer Rouge leaders, said, “Whatever the condemnation against Duch, it will be justice for him.”