30 July 2010
The Lost Executioner on Panos Pictures
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge killed almost two million people, up to a quarter of Cambodia's population. Over thirty years later, the first member of the radical Maoist group was finally brought to justice for the crime of genocide. Pol Pot's chief executioner, Comrade Duch, is thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least 12,272 men, women and children.
Over a decade of working in Cambodia, Nic Dunlop became obsessed with the idea of tracking down Duch. One day in 1999, whilst on assignment in a remote corner of Cambodia, Dunlop recognised a born-again Christian who was working for an American charity. He was face to face with Comrade Duch.
Duch confessed to his role in the Khmer Rouge killing apparatus and surrendered to the Cambodian authorities. The wheels of justice moved slowly, but in June 2007 a genocide tribunal was set up, backed by the United Nations and the Cambodian government. In February 2009 Duch finally came to trial, and in July 2010 he was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Nic Dunlop's extraordinary personal journey to the heart of the Khmer Rouge is recounted in his book The Lost Executioner: The Story of Comrade Duch and the Khmer Rouge.
Posted by Fabio