Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duch, defence teams spar

Duch, defence teams spar

Kaing Guek Eav, better known by his alias Duch, gives his testimony yesterday. ECCC
Kaing Guek Eav, better known by his alias Duch, gives his testimony yesterday. ECCC

Duch, defence teams spar

Former S-21 chief Kaing Guek Eav told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday that if he had known the true threat Vietnamese troops posed to the regime in 1979, he would have destroyed the deadly prison.

Eav, better known as Duch, said he was instructed by Case 002 defendant and Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan to continue working as usual, and not to destroy the slew of photographs and documents produced at the prison where more than 12,000 were sent to their deaths.

“If I knew about that, then I would have destroyed the prison. That is the fact,” Duch said. On the eleventh – and what was expected to be the final – day of testimony from Duch, tensions ran high.

Victor Koppe, defence laywer for former “Brother Number 2” Nuon Chea, waded through delays and confusion as he confronted the witness with documents in which 10 Khmer Rouge combatants claimed there was a planned coup to overthrow Pol Pot.

The scheming for an uprising is a core part of Chea’s defence, which claims the threat of a Vietnamese-backed rebellion from within fuelled the ensuing internal purges. But Duch dampened Koppe’s evidence, saying he had never heard of alleged rebel plans to storm Pochentong Airport or Radio Phnom Penh.

“I believe this statement is rather imaginative; it is surreal,” Duch said. As the day’s final session began, Koppe began his questioning with: “Mr Witness, let’s see if you can sabotage this one as well.” Koppe withdrew the remark after objections from the prosecution, but proceeded to spar with the bench, accusing trial chamber president Nil Nonn of assisting the sabotage. “It’s a travesty here,” Koppe said.

Duch also took a shot at defence lawyer for Khieu Samphan Anta Guisse, who repeatedly pressed him for clarity on his long and sometimes convoluted answers. “I believe that is clear enough [for] someone who has a brain to think,” Duch said.

He said that while “S-21 was the anti-spy unit, and the [Vietnamese were] considered spies and we had to purge all those reactionary elements”, there was no document or policy explicitly outlining a targeted attack on Vietnamese people, former Lon Nol soldiers, or Cham Muslims – three groups the accused are charged with systematically killing.

“No, there was no policy to exterminate Cham people, and if a Cham committed a mistake, he or she would be arrested,” Duch said.

Prosecutor Dale Lysak, however, pointed out a former statement in which Duch admitted that, though he saw no document to that effect, Lon Nol soldiers were nevertheless “systematically eliminated”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

    The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told

  • Sar Kheng: Rainsy return not blocked

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng clarified that Cambodia had never blocked Sam Rainsy from returning to the Kingdom. However, he said Cambodia reserved the right to take legal action as allowed by law against activities aimed at destroying the Kingdom. “No one blocked the return