Ex-guard tells court of time at Kraing Ta Chan

Ex-guard tells court of time at Kraing Ta Chan

A former guard at the Kraing Ta Chan Security Centre testified under protective measures at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yesterday that the notorious prison was used as a “killing site” during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

Due to security concerns, the Trial Chamber issued an oral order after closed deliberations that actions will be taken to protect witness Srei Than’s identity.

“The detailed information of the address of the witness should not be broadcasted to the public … and the image of the witness would be distorted during the hearing of [his] testimony,” announced chamber president Judge Nil Nonn.

Nonn added later that media are ordered to refrain from publishing photos of Than regardless of when they were taken.

The ex-cadre, who is nicknamed Duch, was a soldier for Khmer Rouge forces.

“In 1973, I was a district soldier, and by late 1973, I moved into the sector army under the so-called Khmer Rouge command,” Than said. “In late 1976, I was transferred to … Kraing Ta Chan prison but at the outer fence, which was about 1 kilometre from the main compound itself.”

According to Than, the number of prisoners transferred to the security centre varied from four to 20 a day. They were detained in two buildings, which could each hold 50 to 60 prisoners at a time.

“Prisoners were tied up and sent to [Kraing Ta Chan],” Than said. “I don’t know who made the arrest of those prisoners … but those who brought them in were the commune militiamen.”

One of the prisoners Than saw during his stint as a guard, he said, was past civil party Soy Sen, who took the stand at the tribunal two weeks ago.

In his testimony, Sen accused a guard named Duch to be one of the “cruelest of the 12 soldiers” in the prison, because he was “always very active with his hands and feet in kicking or beating the prisoners up”.

It is unclear whether Sen was referring to Than or a deputy, who was also named Duch and who, according to Sen, passed away two years ago.

The hearing adjourned early at midday to grant defence and civil party lawyers time to review new witness statements from Case 004 relevant to the current Case 002/02. The documents were recently disclosed by the prosecution.

Than will continue his testimony on Monday.

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