Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KR trial resumes with Duch admitting to forged confessions

KR trial resumes with Duch admitting to forged confessions

KR trial resumes with Duch admitting to forged confessions

Says power struggle between Ta Mok, Pol Pot required him to ‘amend'

statements to reflect changes in focus on shifting political enemies.

FORMER Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav told Cambodia's war crimes court Monday that he was forced to forge "enemy" confessions because of a power struggle between two of the regime's top leaders, as the trial of the ex-jailer resumed following a two-week recess.

"The extraction of confessions related to the power struggle in the regime between Ta Mok and Pol Pot," the accused, better known by his revolutionary name Duch, told the court, referring to confessions made at Tuol Sleng prison, or S-21, over which he presided.  

"The way they chose people to be arrested was organised and planned by the standing committee," he added, describing the situation with one of the regime's idioms: "When cutting bamboo, one must trim the thorns."

Duch's comments were in response to questions by judges who wished to clarify testimony he had already given  about confessions at the regime's most notorious torture centre.

He said he would often be required to amend prisoners' confessions at the request of his superiors, depending on their political enemies at the time.

"[Deceased KR senior leader and Central Committee member] Son Sen asked me, ‘Why did this person not implicate [cadre] Pon?' I told him he did confess and implicate [Pon]," Duch said, citing an example in which he was forced to frame a fellow cadre.

"As Pol Pot said in the minutes of a meeting on October 9, 1975, ‘The police are one thing, but here, whether we arrest anyone, it's up to us'," he added.

Following Duch's remarks, genocide expert Craig Etcheson took the stand, becoming the first foreign specialist to be heard at the court.

Etcheson, who cited his occupation as an investigator with co-prosecutors at the tribunal, is the author of The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea and has studied the structures of the regime for three decades.

"The CPK [party's] statutes required each echelon to report regularly to its superior echelon," he said, describing the way in which the standing committee monitored the regime.

He also claimed that cadres who were viewed as "not pure" by the party were weeded out through "disciplinary measures", including execution.

Etcheson's testimony is to continue this week.

Court reshuffle

In a press statement issued late Monday, the ECCC announced several personnel changes at the hybrid court.

Helen Jarvis, former chief of public affairs, will now head the Victims Unit, while the court's press officer, Reach Sambath, has been tapped to serve as head of public affairs.

Other personnel changes include the appointment of Dim Sovannarom as press officer and Neou Kassie as outreach coordinator. 


  • Professor beaten by mob in Phnom Penh after alleged hit-and-run

    Updated with new information: 6:44am, Tuesday March 13 2018 A university professor accused of a hit-and-run has been transported to Vietnam with serious head injuries after he was brutally beaten by a mob in Phnom Penh late Sunday afternoon. A video of the attack shows a group

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • American ‘fugitive’ arrested in Cambodia outside of US Embassy

    An American citizen was arrested on request by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to Cambodian police. Major General Uk Hei Sela, chief of investigations at the Department of Immigration, identified the man as American Jan Sterling Hagen, and said he was

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and