Khmer Rouge prison commander Comrade Duch dies

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Kaing Guek Eav, known as Comrade Duch

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Comrade Duch claimed he was only following orders

Comrade Duch, a former senior figure of the Khmer Rouge convicted of crimes against humanity in Cambodia, has died.

He was serving a life sentence after being sentenced by a UN-backed court.

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Comrade Duch, ran the notorious Tuol Sleng prison where thousands of people were tortured and murdered in the late 1970s.

As many as two million people are believed to have died under the Khmer Rouge, a Maoist regime that controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

Duch was the first senior Khmer Rouge leader convicted of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed tribunal in 2010 and sentenced in 2012.

He passed away on Wednesday, aged 77, a spokesperson for the tribunal said, without giving details of the cause. He had been ill for many years.

“Duch died this morning at 00:52am, on 2 September at Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital. Details of what he died of, I can’t tell,” Khmer Rouge tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said.

What happened at Tuol Sleng prison?

Comrade Duch ran the S-21 prison, also known as Tuol Sleng, the most notorious torture site during the Khmer Rouge regime.

It is thought that at least 15,000 men, women and children deemed enemies of the regime passed through the gates of the former school turned prison.

Most of them were tortured, forced to confess to fictitious crimes against the Khmer Rouge and then put to death at the so-called killing fields just outside the capital Phnom Penh.

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Getty Images

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Tuol Sleng was turned from a school to a prison, torture site and death camp

Prisoners were initially officials from the old government, people accused of being middle class and later mainly Khmer Rouge members suspected of disloyalty.

The guards, who were often teenagers, forced the prisoners to write detailed confessions to whatever they were accused of and implicate friends and family who where then imprisoned in turn.

Those who survived the tortures wh

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