Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Justice for Cambodia

New York Times
July 27, 2010

Thirty years later, Cambodia’s “killing fields” are still haunting. A Buddhist memorial displays 5,000 haphazardly arranged human skulls — a tiny fraction of the 1.7 million Cambodians butchered by the Khmer Rouge.

While the world must never forget what happened, there is at least the beginning of justice. On Monday, a United Nations-backed tribunal convicted Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, of war crimes and crimes against humanity — the first major Khmer Rouge figure to be tried since the regime was overthrown. He has already spent 16 years in prison, and the tribunal sentenced him to another 19 years.

Duch oversaw a notorious prison where more than 14,000 people were tortured and killed. During an eight-month trial, he admitted to many of the charges against him. His defense — he was a “cog in a machine” — is no defense at all.