Death of a Commandant

CHOEUNG EK, CAMBODIA — Cambodians greeted the death of Khmer Rouge commandant Kaing Guek Eav – also known as Duch – with a mix of happiness, sorrow and relief, as this country continues to move on from its tragic past.

Duch died on September 2, while serving a life sentence at the Kandal Provincial Correctional Center for crimes against humanity and the deaths of more than 16,000 people in Cambodia’s notorious Killing Fields between 1975 and 1979. 

His conviction was one of three obtained at a United Nations-backed court, which found the former math teacher and born again Christian had ruthlessly lorded over prisoners he deemed fit for extermination at S-21, a prison converted from a high school at Tuol Sleng in the capital city of Phnom Penh.

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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