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Tuol Sleng survivor on death bed

THERE is “little hope” that former Tuol Sleng prisoner Vann Nath will survive after falling into a coma on Friday, his doctors reportedly said yesterday.

The 66-year-old painter and victim of the Khmer Rouge’s notoriously brutal interrogation facility S21 is suffering from kidney disease, high blood pressure and has water in his lungs, family members quoted doctors as saying.

His son in law, Lon Nara, said his father remained connected to a respirator but no longer showed signs of  any brain activity.

His wife, 62-year-old Kit Eng, said doctors  at the La Sante Hemodialysis centre in Phnom Penh, where he is receiving care, had told her that if an assisted breathing apparatus was taken away, her husband would be “finished”.

“The doctor told me that my husband had little hope,” she said.

But she said she had yet to give up hope and would continue medical treatment, hoping that perhaps a “phenomena” could save her husband.

A plan by Cambodian film-maker and close friend Rithy Panh to fly Vann Nath to France for treatment had been abandoned after doctors told him it was too risky, she said.

Rithy Panh, who directed the documentary S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, said his friend had wished to see justice from the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s second trial.

“The doctor told us his situation was hopeless,” he said.

Vann Nath, one of three survivors of Tuol Sleng known to still be alive,  had painted graphic depictions of the violence exacted upon inmates.

Last year, he testified against Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, but it remains unknown whether he was scheduled to be called as a witness in Case 002.

Duch was given a 35-year sentence for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in his role as chief of the interrogation camp.

This sentence was commuted to 19 years because of time already served in prison and human-rights violations against him.

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