Dutch teacher-turned-Khmer Rouge torturer dies at 77

A former teacher of the school, who almost ruled for the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. The top torturer to monitor the deaths of 15,000 people died on Wednesday at the age of 77.

Dutch teacher-turned-Khmer Rouge torturer dies at 77

King Guek Eav, better known by his nickname Dutch, served as the head of the infamous Tolstoy Prison and was later transferred’ to the "Killing Fields" government by a UN-backed war crimes tribunal. He was convicted’ of crimes against humanity for his role.

Born in 1942, Khmer Rouge, a former math teacher, became one of the top interrogators when the Maoist ultra-Maoist government was in power from 1975-1979.

He monitored the violence against thousands of men, women and children at a nearby high school, which turned him into a concentration camp, extracting false confessions from victims and sending them to their deaths on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he retained his position within the communist movement as he fought the Vietnam-backed army.

The jailer converted to Christianity in his later years, and was working for a relief agency in western Cambodia under a false name at the time of his arrest in 1999, when many had long held this view. That he was already dead.

The Dutchman was the first member of the Khmer Rouge to face trial before a war crimes tribunal in Cambodia and was sentenced’ in 2012 to life in prison.

Yuk Chang, director of the Cambodian Documentation Center, which conducts research on the Khmer Rouge government, said his death was a "reminder that justice is a long and difficult process."

"It may give some relief to the living, and the fallen may now find peace," Yuk told AFP.

- Milestone of Justice -

Deutsche Welle's testimony at the tribunal serves as a major milestone for the millions of Cambodians who suffered under the brutal government, which claimed up to 2 million lives in a short span of four years.

He maintained a large archive of photographs, confessions and other documents with which UN prosecutors traced the last horrific months of the lives of thousands of prisoners.

It revealed these aspects of the government's covert operations - such as Paranoia's repeated cleansing of the leadership - to show that its enemies were in its ranks.

He said during the trial that the Dutch became a cadre in 1970 to "change society, oppose the government, oppose violence" and helped oversee a series of jungle prisons.

After the government came to power in 1975, he was appointed head of the Toll Sling, which the Khmer Rouge calls S21.

He said they could be easily included because they were "like a blank piece of paper."

When he apologized for the crimes committed in prison, he later apologized to the survivors, disappointing them that he was not a senior member of the high-ranking Khmer Rouge. ۔

"I respectfully and strictly obeyed orders," the Dutch said in a final public statement in court.

Dutch had been in and out of the hospital for years and had severe respiratory problems towards the end of his life.

A tribunal spokesman, Neth Pheaktra, told AFP he had been re-admitted for treatment this week and died’ shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

The work of the court facing the Dutch has been tainted’ by its limited scope and the age of its defendants. Only the tribunal has convicted two others.

One of them, "Brother Number Two" Naveen Chi - considered the chief ideologue and architect of the murderous government - died last year at the age of 93.


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