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Former Khmer Rouge leader charged with crimes against humanity

[JURIST] Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Khek Iev, also known as Duch, was charged [ECCC press release, PDF] with crimes against humanity Tuesday by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive]. Duch was questioned [AP report] earlier in the day by the ECCC, the special tribunal investigating the Khmer Rouge genocide [JURIST news archive], concerning allegations of torture at the S-21 prison, where some 17,000 people died. Duch told the tribunal that he was only following the orders of his superiors, as he "would have died if [he] disobeyed."

Duch, one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders under investigation by the court, was arrested in 1999 on genocide charges and was subsequently charged by a military court with crimes against humanity in 2002 and war crimes [JURIST report] in March. Those charges were primarily brought to keep Duch in custody while the ECCC started operations. Earlier this month, Nuon Chea [BBC profile], former deputy general of the Cambodian Communist Party and the most senior surviving member of the Khmer Rouge, said in an interview that he expects to appear before the ECCC, but denied any responsibility for the genocide. The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended 2005, PDF] to investigate and try those responsible for the Cambodian genocide that occurred between 1975-1979. The genocide resulted in the deaths of approximately one-third of the Cambodian population. To date, no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced trial, and the charges against Duch are first charges brought by the tribunal. BBC News has more.

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