By SOPHENG CHEANG and SUSAN POSTLEWAITE
ABC 7 News
02/17/09 7:28 am
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The chief of a prison where some 16,000 men, women and children were tortured before being killed appeared Tuesday before Cambodia's genocide tribunal in its first trial over the Khmer Rouge reign of terror more than three decades ago. Kaing Guek Eav - better known as Duch - is charged with crimes against humanity and is the first of five defendants scheduled for long-delayed trials by the U.N.-assisted court.
They were among a close-knit, ultra-communist clique that turned Cambodia into a vast slave labor camp and charnel house in which 1.7 million or more died of starvation, disease and execution.
Duch, who headed the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh for the Khmer Rouge, is the only defendant to have expressed remorse for his actions, and on Tuesday he again voiced regret for what he did and sought forgiveness.
This week's hearing establishes the schedule for the trial, which is expected to begin in late March. The prosecution said it will present 33 witnesses over 40 days, while the defense said it seeks to have 13 witnesses testify over 4 1/2 days.
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