Appearing before a special court in his native Cambodia in 2009, Kaing Khek Iev confessed to a role in the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s that made him one of the most prolific mass murderers of recent history.
“I am solely and individually liable for the loss of at least 12,380 lives,” the former chief of the prison and torture centre known as Tuol Sleng told the tribunal in the capital, Phnom Penh. “I still and forever wish to most respectfully and humbly apologise to the dead souls.”
In convicting him of crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2010, the international court said the number of his victims probably was “considerably greater”. On appeal, the court rejected his plea for release, unswayed by his conversion to evangelical Christianity and his arguments that he had been merely a “cog” in the Khmer Rouge killing machine.