Asia-Pacific

Khmer Rouge sentence 'too short', say prosecutors

Duch in court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (26 July 2010)
Image caption Duch had shocked many by admitting his crimes but asking the court to acquit him

Prosecutors at the UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia are appealing against the sentence imposed on a Khmer Rouge jailer, saying it is too short.

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Comrade Duch, was given a 35-year sentence in July for crimes against humanity during the regime's rule in the 1970s.

But because of time already served and compensation for a period of illegal detention, he will be free in 19 years.

Duch was the first of five surviving senior Khmer Rouge figures to be tried.

Up to two million people died because of the policies of the regime, which ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979.

The 68-year-old was found guilty of overseeing the torture and execution of thousands of people at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.

During his trial, he admitted his role in the killings and torture of thousands of men, women and children at the prison, but said he was following orders and had asked the court to acquit him.

"Prosecutors are of the view that the judgment gives insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch's crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes," the prosecutors said in a statement.

Only about a dozen people who were held at Tuol Sleng are thought to have survived, three of whom are still alive.

Up to 17,000 people are believed to have died there.

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