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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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