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Ex-Khmer Rouge leader 'Duch' apologizes for war crimes in Cambodia genocide court

[JURIST] Former Khmer Rogue [BBC backgrounder] leader Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder, JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch," on Tuesday formally accepted responsibility and apologized for the torture and murder of an estimated 12,000 Cambodians at the prison he ran for the regime. Kaing made the admission [Phnom Penh Post report] during his trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] where he faces charges [ECCC press release, PDF] of crimes against humanity, torture, and murder for his actions as the overseer of the Tuol Sleng interrogation facility known as S21. Pretrial hearings against Kaing began last month, but the substantive case [JURIST reports] against him began Monday. The trial will continue [court document, PDF] with additional statements on Wednesday of this week, and additional proceedings every Monday through Thursday until early July.

Kaing's trial is the first of eight [JURIST report] that the ECCC hopes to hear against former members of the Khmer Rouge, which has been accused of murdering 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] during their nearly four year reign. The ECCC has long been plagued with accusations of corruption and inadequate funding, with greater problems in recent years. Earlier this month, the ECCC reported that it would be unable to pay its Cambodian employees [JURIST report] for that month, one year after the court had requested $114 million dollars from the UN [JURIST report]. In February, Human Rights Watch warned that the ECCC trials were in danger of being tainted for their failure to follow fair trial standards [JURIST report], and in January a Cambodian court agreed to hear a corruption case [JURIST report] involving two ECCC judges.

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