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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - S-21 ex-interrogator says work there was 'too hard', 'boring'

S-21 ex-interrogator says work there was 'too hard', 'boring'

Court hears interviews of three witnesses who were unable to attend, including photographer.

A FORMER interrogator at S-21 prison told the war crimes court Tuesday that as well as being "horrendous and exhausting", his job during the regime was "boring".

Lach Mean, who was called to testify against his former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, denied getting any satisfaction from his job.
"I think it is hard for me to say that I was satisfied with the work of that place because it was kind of a boring job," he said.

"We worked too hard, and we lived in fear, and we thought that one day we would end up being killed like other detainees."

Lach Mean, now a 52-year-old farmer in Kampong Chhnang province, also expressed his regret for having worked at the alleged torture centre.

"The work [at S-21] was horrendous and exhausting; we worked on patrol long hours," he said. "I lost contact with friends and family, and I did not know where my family members were sent."

Speaking on his second day of testimony, he said that during his time at the prison he also noticed prisoners were catching dysentery and dying.

Nhem En testimony read
An investigative interview with former S-21 photographer Nhem En, 49, currently the deputy governor of former Khmer Rouge stronghold Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchey province, was also read out before the chamber Tuesday.

The former photographer was one of three witnesses who were unable to attend and whose statements were read out in their absence.

Duch called Nhem En's statement a "lie" and said he embellished his role at the prison and "boasted" about it.

"He was only a small photographer at the time," Duch said.

The vast majority of Cambodian adults believe the Khmer Rouge trials will create painful memories for them in addition to providing justice, according to a recent study on the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder. Conducted by the University of North Carolina, the study analysed data from 1,017 randomly selected adults. “Although Cambodians were hopeful that the trials would promote justice, 87.2 percent (681) of those older than 35 years believed that the trials would create painful memories for them,” researchers said in a press statement Tuesday. The study, which will be published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that further research needs to be taken to fully assess the impact of the trials on Cambodians’ mental health. “The crucial question is whether the Khmer Rouge trials will ... increase PTSD symptoms by reviving traumatic memories of survivors without providing an opportunity to process and reframe these memories.”



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