Khmer Rouge Leader Admits Crimes against HumanityWorld | March 31, 2009, Tuesday // 14:00| views
Skulls of some of the 2 million Cambodians killed during the Khmer Rouge 70s regime. Photo by nowpublic.net
A key Khmer Rouge leader has admitted responsibility for crimes committed during the regime's brutal rule in Cambodia.
Speaking at a UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, expressed "regretfulness and heartfelt sorrow" for his actions, the BBC reported Tuesday.
Duch is accused of torture, crimes against humanity and premeditated murder for his alleged role in the deaths of more than 10 000 people.
"May I be permitted to apologise to the survivors of the regime, and also the loved ones of those who died brutally during the regime," Duch told the court.
"I ask not that you forgive me now, but hope you will later."
Prosecutors opened their case against Duch on Tuesday, the second day of this trial, and vowed to get justice for his many victims.
Duch is the first Khmer Rouge leader to face the tribunal, with four more of the regime's senior figures in custody and awaiting trial.
He ran the Tuol Sleng prison, which, the co-prosecutor said, "formed an integral and indeed vital role in a widespread attack on the population of Cambodia".
Only a few people are known to have survived their time at Tuol Sleng, which is now a genocide museum lined with photographs of the thousands who died there.
Duch has been in detention since he was discovered in the Cambodian countryside in 1999 by British journalist Nic Dunlop.
The Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975, ousting a US-backed government shortly after the US pulled out of neighbouring Vietnam.
Driven on by Maoist principles, they attempted to create a peasant society by systematically emptying the cities and forcing the population to work in the fields.
By the time the Vietnamese army invaded and overthrew the Khmer Rouge in 1979, the regime had executed, starved or overworked to death up to two million Cambodians.