Killer could be freed - Hamill

01:00, Jul 27 2010

Te Pahu man Rob Hamill believes a former Khmer Rouge prison camp boss responsible for his brother's death may again enjoy freedom, and possibly even appeal a 35-year jail sentence handed down in Cambodia.

Yesterday, Kaing Guek Eav – better known as Comrade Duch – was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a United Nations-backed tribunal after pleading guilty to crimes against humanity, war crimes, premeditated murder and torture.

Duch, 67, confessed to the torture of more than 12,000 people – among them Mr Hamill's brother Kerry, in 1978 – before they were executed during his tenure as chief of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital.

Prosecutors had sought 40 years and, speaking immediately after the sentencing, Mr Hamill said he had realised Duch could appeal its length and might eventually again be a free man.

"Initially I was pretty chuffed with it. Forty years was asked for by the prosecution, so the judges only mitigated five years, which is I think a very good outcome," Mr Hamill told the Waikato Times.

"But the reality of it is that it's really only 19 years. The guy's been in prison for 11 years, and they've taken off five years for an illegal detention."

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Mr Hamill said he was not satisfied: "There is the potential he'll be a free man in the future – and that's a real possibility. That is not appropriate, and I don't think that's justice for my brother."

Mr Hamill had been adamant Duch should spend the rest of his life in prison. "He [Duch] is 67 now, that means he'll be 86-odd when he gets out, and that's very do-able, I think.

"He looks pretty sprightly, pretty fit, he'll have good healthcare in the prison. They may even appeal, take the risk of an increase or a decrease in sentence ... I don't know."

"It was difficult in court there at times – there were moments when I really thought about my brother," he said.

Mr Hamill will remain in Cambodia to continue filming for a documentary on his pursuit for justice for his brother, and hoped to find out more details about Kerry's last days.

- With Agencies

Waikato Times