Monday, July 26, 2010

Guilty and sentenced

The face of evil - Comrade Duch
I appreciate that the news media will be full of the Comrade Duch (above) verdict any minute now but just in case you need to know right this minute, he was found guilty and handed a 35 year jail-time. Duch is 67 years old and should've seen out his days in detention but the judges then reduced his sentence by five years because he had been held illegally and then another 11 years for time he's already served. So the total jail-time will be 19 years. Which has obviously angered a lot of people considering Duch admitted being responsible for the deaths of over 14,000 people as commandant of the S-21 prison and execution facility. The judges claimed his crimes against humanity were "shocking and heinous" but still handed down a lenient sentence in the eyes of many, including mine. Rob Hamill, brother of Kerry Hamill, one of the westerners murdered at Tuol Sleng was in court. "Definitely not appropriate. The possibility of this guy walking free at any point in the future I just don't believe is appropriate," he told Radio New Zealand. "I was initially pleased because the judges only mitigated five years of that 40 and that is a reasonably pleasing outcome considering, but at the end of the day he could be a free man." I won't labour the point that I think the verdict stinks but I do know that the factors which worked in his favour were his cooperation, his admission of responsibility, his limited expressions of remorse, the coercive environment in the regime, and the potential of rehabilitation. A suggestion is that with good behaviour Duch may be eligible for release in just over 12 years time, though latest reports indicate that is a red herring. We shall see. If it happens, it will make a lot of people very unhappy.

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