The Spectacle Blog

Khmer Rouge Conviction

By on 7.27.10 | 4:41AM

The commandant of the brutal S-21 prison run by the Khmer Rouge has been convicted and sentenced by a special court.  Reports CNN:

A man who ran a notorious Cambodian torture prison where more than 14,000 people died during the Khmer Rouge regime was found guilty of war crimes Monday and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Despite the sentence, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, will serve no more than 19 years. The judge took off five years for the time Duch was illegally detained before the United Nations-backed tribunal was established, and another 11 years for the time he has already served behind bars.

The verdict -- which also convicted Duch of crimes against humanity, murder and torture -- sparked strong reactions as word spread outside the courtroom. Some said it made them lose faith in the war crimes tribunal.

Alas, most of the Khmer Rouge leadership will never be held accountable.  Pol Pot, for one, died years ago.

The S-21 facility--a former school--has been made into a museum.  It offers a horrifying picture of man's inhumanity to man.  Combine that with a trip to the "killing fields" just outside Phnom Penh, where many of S-21's prisoners and others were murdered and buried, and one gains a sense of the horror of the Cambodian genocide.  Still, it is hard to imagine what it meant for around 1.7 million people to be murdered, many through beatings and torture.

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