Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duch tells court he was tortured under Lon Nol

Duch tells court he was tortured under Lon Nol

Kaing Guek Eav gives his testimony during Case 002/02 yesterday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. ECCC
Kaing Guek Eav gives his testimony during Case 002/02 yesterday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. ECCC

Duch tells court he was tortured under Lon Nol

Comrade Duch, the head of the Khmer Rouge’s infamous S-21 prison centre, yesterday returned to the subject of interrogation methods used on prisoners, adding this time that he had picked some of them up during his own interrogation under Lon Nol in the late 1960s.

When shown a video of a former detainee describing being beaten, having his nails ripped out, being electrocuted and dunked into water headfirst, Duch – whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav – said that the testimony is “exaggerated”.

However, he did admit that sometimes prisoners were electrocuted, while others were suffocated with plastic bags until they lost consciousness, then revived to continue the interrogation.

“[The] electrocution method was preferred by Nat,” said Duch, referring to the cadre who was chairman of S-21 while he was the deputy. “Nat preferred the electrocution by using the manual dial telephone.”

Duch said that he learned interrogation methods from his own experience at the hands of the Lon Nol regime, which the Khmer Rouge toppled in 1975. He mentioned being beaten and waterboarded, with a krama placed over his mouth and water poured over it.

However, Duch did not directly admit to these tactics being used at S-21. He said only that if overzealous guards beat an important prisoner to death, they would be detained and punished.

Victor Koppe, co-defender of Nuon Chea, grilled Duch on whether he picked up his interrogation methods from a CIA manual, written by the agency’s first civilian director, Allen Dulles, or any other manuals written by foreign governments. Duch said that while he read translated parts of Dulles’ book, he did not use the methods described.

Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne also questioned Duch on medical experiments carried out at the security centre. Documents from S-21 described people in various states of mutilation being submerged in water to see how long it would take them to resurface.

Duch gave contradictory answers, at first denying that such experiments took place, but later describing an incident where he and a cadre named Hor participated in one such submersion of a woman’s body.

Part of S-21’s grim work was determining the identity of, and extracting confessions from, Vietnamese “spies”. The interrogators used a rudimentary lie detection method by measuring the prisoners’ pulse during questioning. If it quickened, they were a spy, Duch said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the