Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duch describes torture, consequences at S-21

Duch describes torture, consequences at S-21

Kaing Guek Eav testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during case 002/02 yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC
Kaing Guek Eav testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during case 002/02 yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC

Duch describes torture, consequences at S-21

A motley collection of instruments were used to torture prisoners to extract confessions and unravel dubious CIA connections during the Khmer Rouge regime, the former head of the infamous S-21 prison told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known by his alias Duch, delved into the intricacies of torture methods used by interrogators at S-21 – and the consequences for those who overdid it.

Duch’s favoured method was beating prisoners with sticks, as other tactics – wrapping electrical wires around toes, holding a plastic bag over a prisoner’s face to suffocate them, or wrapping their head in a scarf and pouring water from a kettle over them – were time-consuming.

“The physical torture was inevitable … there was only one case that physical torture was not used,” he said.

Psychological torture, such as making prisoners’ fear for their families’ welfare, or forcing inmates to worship whips and images of dogs, was also used.

But harsh punishments were meted out to those who tortured detainees to their deaths.

“Any interrogator who had beaten the important prisoner to death … that concerned interrogator would have been arrested in replacement of the dead prisoner,” Duch said.

Duch said he was instructed to turn his focus to weeding out CIA spies at S-21 after the party leadership claimed to have found a cluster in Sector 32.

Reading statements from civil parties – who can claim collective and moral reparations for harm and suffering – civil party lawyer Marie Guiraud focused on the widows and relatives seeking justice for S-21 atrocities.

“The death of my brother … plunged me in deep mourning,” Guiraud read from one statement. “I want to meet these women and tell them I am sorry that I could not protect their men,” Duch said.

Guiraud also confronted Duch with the testimonies of former interrogators and guards claiming multiple cases of sexual assault or rape committed by S-21 staff against female detainees. Lach Mean, a former interrogator, in April testified before the court about instances of rape committed against female prisoners.

Duch was incredulous that sexual assault was perpetrated by his staff on his watch. “Who [would] dare to engage in any sexual rape? Nobody,” he said. “I only knew of one account of moral misconduct . . . At the time I did not believe it was sexual rape.”

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the