A Change of Guard

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Friday, 10 June 2016

Duch again implicates Chea in KRT testimony

School of Vice

Two factors [above all others] can arguably be said to have facilitated the rise to power of the 'murderous' KR movement: 1] failure to modernise and reform public national institutions, including political and judicial bodies, 2] external interference and exploitation by foreign powers vis a vis this failure. 

The extent to which sheer physical violence and political totalitarian rule had been adopted to sustain this movement in power speaks volumes of the combined impact the said factors had had in shaping Cambodia's politics and social life, serving to highlight and confirm the KR's historically utilitarian, instrumental status to those foreign actors and its offshoot character in Cambodia's 'modern' history. 

Today, this murderous leadership may stand condemned before the world's moral and emotional court, but this moral offence and outrage is based more on physical evidence visible to the human eye, and less so as to the prior dialectical forces that gave birth and expression to that leadership's existence and potency. Likewise, these aging figures of the KR that still haunt the nation are proving to be mankind's most reprehensible and revolting symbols of evil, and that this is so only partly due to the same physical evidence of brutality and violence committed. But, [I would argue] their insanity and myopia are far from being unique or exceptional. The post-KR regime that still endures to this day displays the same fundamental insanity and myopic intransigence as had been done by its immediate predecessor, and in terms of the cited 'failure' above, can be seen to reproduce the same flaws and failings as had the post-colonial reign of the late Sihanouk itself. 

In other words, Pol Pot, Nuon Chea et al may stand out in our collective understanding and assessment in terms of the extent of their physical crimes, but they are far from being unrivaled, or indeed [some may point out], being unsurpassed in rapacity and insanity as to methods, and or in duplicity as to national treason and treachery.


Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea yesterday. ECCC
Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea yesterday. ECCC

Duch again implicates Chea in KRT testimony
Thu, 9 June 2016 ppp
Erin Handley

The former chief of the notorious S-21 prison yesterday told of how he swapped painkillers for poison and thwarted an order from his alleged superior – Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Nuon Chea – in an apparent bid to spare the lives of four inmates.

Kaing Guek Eav, more commonly known by the nomme de guerre “Duch”, returned to the courtroom to answer questions about the Tuol Sleng prison, where more than 12,000 people were imprisoned and later executed.

Duch told the courtroom experimental surgeries performed on live prisoners ceased after 1975; however, he said his superior, whom he identified as Case 002 defendant and former Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, had once handed him four pills to “test” on prisoners.

The pills were discovered in the home of an “enemy” interrogated at S-21, who confessed under torture to a plot to kill or poison Khmer Rouge cadres.

Thousands of questionable S-21 “confessions” were obtained under torture, and detailed prisoners’ alleged connections to international spy agencies like the CIA and KGB.

Duch said he threw out the tablets and ground up paracetamol, then funnelled it into the empty capsules and gave them to inmates. “In fact I changed the powder so it was not poisonous,” he said.

It was one of the small redemptive acts Duch described amid the vast atrocities committed at his prison. Another was when he tried, but ultimately failed, to save three children of a slain prisoner at M13, a prison he oversaw before moving to S-21.

“I could not keep them alive . . . I reported to brother Son Sen and I told him that raising the children at the prison was not successful because we did not have the emotional attachment,” he said.

In response, Duch’s superior, Son Sen, ordered an “absolute” stance, where wives and children were “smashed”.

The prosecution confronted Duch with lists of heavily pregnant women who were sent from the rice fields at Prey Sar to the killing fields of Cheoung Ek, as well as a series of faded photographs depicting an entire family who were arrested and detained at S-21.

The children of that family were all executed within a week of their arrival – although one of the girls committed suicide on Christmas Day after the death of her siblings. Their father was executed nine months later.

When questioned if Son Sen, and later Nuon Chea, condoned or condemned the killing of children, Duch responded: “There was never an instruction not to kill children, not to kill pregnant women.”

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