Manifestly Inadequate

Those are the words of a tribunal about the sentencing of a Cambodian death merchant directly responsible for the slaughter of thousands in a Khmer Rouge death camp, including the death of Kiwi sailor Kerry Hamill.

The man who ran that ”factory of death” and responsible for at least 12,000 deaths, Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, is the only person who has been sentenced in the United Nations-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

He was found guilty in 2010 and sentenced to 35 years in prison, which was reduced to 30 years to reflect the time he had already spent in detention. Duch appealed that sentence.

After a year of deliberation the Supreme Court Chamber announced yesterday that the sentence was ”manifestly inadequate”, and sentenced him to life.

But there has been little justice for the millions of people who lost their lives, or for their families who live on, not knowing what happened to their loved ones, and having to accept that they will probably never find out.

More than a quarter of Cambodia’s population was killed by The Khmer Rouge lead by Pol Pot. It is a country of young people, still struggling to get back on its feet. the enormity of the problem cannot be underestimated:

…challenges result from a lack of experienced Cambodian lawyers and judges, because the Khmer Rouge targetted for death the most intelligent.

”There’s nothing wrong with their abilities,” Mrs Cartwright says.

”But what we’re talking about is a generation almost below me in terms of age and experience, so they just don’t have that wealth of experience that other countries can draw from.”

At least 1.7 million – perhaps as many as three million – were killed under the rule of Pol Pot, which took control April 17, 1975.

Within days it had cleared out the cities, shut down institutions, police stations, and separated families, sending women and children to one place, and men to another.

Its aim was to create a communist country based on agriculture and in doing so it had to wipe out intellectuals, or anyone who resisted its ideals – about one person in four.

Anyone who had soft hands, spoke a foreign language or wore glasses was killed. Music would blare out of loud speakers at the killing fields, masking the screams of those being tortured, or beaten and hacked to death.

There were 300 killing fields in Cambodia. To this day, bone fragments, teeth and torn pieces of clothing emerge from the surface, constant reminders of what occurred.


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  • Tristanb

    I don’t want to Godwin with the first comment, but this is an extreme
    example of the government trying to “create a better society”. It is the
    reason why we should hold onto our personal freedoms and not let the
    government control us.

    Any time the government suggests making a law that reduces personal freedom, even it is seen as beneficial for society, we need to say no.

  • Thorn

    For their support of the Khmer Rouge, Comrades Keith Locke, Sue Bradford and John Minto should have stood alongside Comrade Duch in the dock.

  • Alex

     Now I’m opposed to the death penalty for “ordinary” crimes, but I do support it for crimes against humanity such as that.  Even Geoffrey Robertson QC — the legal darling of the leftists — takes this position.  What sickens me is that this Cambodian criminal will live when his victims did not; and that the leftists who are opposed to the death penalty, would probably have argued that the Nuremberg trial should not have sentenced the Nazi leaders to death.   

  • Apolonia

    Were they using New Zealand judges?

    • ConwayCaptain

      Dame asylvia Cartwright was one of the judges