Khieu Samphan was “in charge” of Pol Pot’s secretariat office, also known as “Office 870”, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, testified yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
During examination by Trial Chamber Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne, the former S-21 prison chief said such a position afforded the former Democratic Kampuchea head of state with high-level access to information.
“He was allowed to know important information. Pol Pot allowed him to know and help him remember the issues,” Duch said, adding that the two leaders were “close”.
After 1975, Duch said this secretariat office was referred to as “Office 870”.
“All documents were in the hands of Khieu Samphan” at Office 870, Duch continued.
According to the indictment against the three co-accused – Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea – Office 870 was one of the two highest-level offices within the Communist Party of Kampuchea, tasked with supporting the Standing Committee on matters of policy. The indictment also says that Khieu Samphan has “categorically denied” ever being chairman.
Duch has generally been reluctant to speak out against the former head of state, in stark contrast to the zealousness he typically reserves for co-accused Brother No 2 Nuon Chea. Last week, Duch said Khieu Samphan was “pure” and “clean” and that his role was only “symbolic and honorific”.
And during testimony earlier in the day yesterday, Duch refused to answer when civil party lawyer Lyma Nguyen asked whether any S-21 prisoner confessions had been sent to Khieu Samphan or Ieng Sary.
“I’d like to refrain from answering this question,” Duch responded, despite willingly saying that such confessions were sent to Nuon Chea.
The examination of the former S-21 prison chief continues today, starting with questions by Nuon Chea’s defence team.
Toward the end of yesterday’s session, defence lawyer Michiel Pestman said that his client, Nuon Chea, wanted five minutes of today’s session to respond to Duch’s testimony, but the Trial Chamber did not issue a ruling before the court adjourned.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org