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Duch: Nuon Chea ‘controlled’ nation

It was a rough day in court for Brother No 2 yesterday as nearly five hours of testimony by Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, laid much high-level decision-making blame at Nuon Chea’s feet.


In the former S-21 prison director’s third day on the stand this week, co-prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal continued to depict a heavily centralised decision-making process within the Communist Party of Kampuchea.

International deputy co-prosecutor William Smith asked Duch to explain the concept of “democratic centralism” as described in a party statute from 1971.

“Democratic centralization means subordinates had to respect the superior and upper-level cadres,” Duch explained.

“Did that apply to decision-making at the committee level?” Smith probed.

“At the lower level, people would discuss and did their best to … achieve the tasks rendered to them from the upper levels,” Duch said, adding that “in general, the secretaries were supposed to be the ones who made the final decisions.”

One such task was the “smashing” of enemies, Duch testified.

“Who made the decision to single out the enemy?” national deputy co-prosecutor SengBunkheang asked.

“I received information from Son Sen [before 1975],” Duch said. 

“Later on, I received this ... from Brother Nuon Chea.”

“And whenever the upper echelon made a decision to arrest any person, S-21 had to be prepared to implement the orders,” he added.

When asked whether this “policy” was applied throughout the country or relegated only to certain areas, Duch emphatically responded with a raised arm and extended finger that “Brother No 1 Pol Pot and Brother No 2 Nuon Chea controlled the whole country”.

The former prison chief also reported that he had “regular” contact with his superior, Nuon Chea, meeting “every other day”.

Duch also said that Nuon Chea led the Khmer Rouge in a socialist revolution that held an “absolute monopoly” over all affairs of state.

“The police, the military, the economy, and the politics were all led by Nuon Chea’s party,” Duch said.

At the beginning of the day’s proceedings, Nuon Chea’s defence lawyer, Michiel Pestman, criticised his client’s medical examination the previous day, alleging that doctors had only tested “whether my client is able to sit in a chair in court,” rather than “establishing whether my client is able to follow what’s going on and concentrate on the procedures”.

Pestman had accompanied Nuon Chea to his medical examination on Tuesday, prompting a reprimand from judge Nil Nonn.



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