It was always possible that Cambodian jailer Kaing Guek Eav (aka Comrade Duch) took responsibility for more than 15,000 deaths under the Khmer Rouge regime in the hope that his apparent contrition would win him a lighter sentence, despite his sometimes over-the-top claims of culpability. With the termination of his international lawyer, it seems more likely his behavior during the trial last year was more legal ploy than genuine sorrow:
Duch's defence strategy imploded on the final day of his trial in November when he suddenly demanded his release after months of admitting responsibility for overseeing the murders of around 15,000 people at the Tuol Sleng prison.
During most of the trial, Duch's defence team focused on getting a lighter sentence by downplaying his position within the regime and by highlighting his remorse, his time already served and his cooperation with the court.
Prosecutors said at the time that the 67-year-old's sudden U-turn had raised doubts about his admissions of responsibility and his pleas for forgiveness.
Duch's verdict is due on July 26, and the trials of four higher-ups in the Pol Pot leadership structure are supposed to begin in 2011 (if they're still alive), but the court has been marred by conflicts of interest and corruption. Millions of dollars have been wasted on this U.N. co-sponsored exercise in so-called justice, but at least the next generation of Cambodians will have a clear marker on their dark history.
Oh, and MSNBC still needs to fire Chris Matthews.
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