Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-guard recalls executions at killing fields in KRT testimony

Ex-guard recalls executions at killing fields in KRT testimony

Makk Sithim gives his testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. ECCC
Makk Sithim gives his testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. ECCC

Ex-guard recalls executions at killing fields in KRT testimony

A former guard who shepherded truckloads of prisoners to their deaths at the infamous Choeung Ek killing fields appeared before the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Him Huy, the latest in a string of high-profile witnesses testifying about the S-21 prison, ferried inmates to Choeung Ek, where thousands were slain and then dumped into freshly dug pits.

In fact, it is his recorded voice that now gives a chilling account to tourists as they wend through the killing fields today.

Now in his early 60s, the former S-21 guard was eventually promoted to the deputy chief of the special unit in charge of security. Yesterday, he told the court that detainees were killed and buried en masse in open spaces to the west and south of prison complex.

Huy testified that between 50 and 100 prisoners were executed at the S-21 site per week or fortnight, but “only after the prisoners gave the full confessions to the interrogators”.

“Usually they took prisoners out to be killed at night time, and I did not have any business to . . . observe,” he said.

That changed when he took charge of transporting and receiving prisoners at Choeung Ek, where he methodically recorded the names of the victims.

“If one prisoner was gone from the list, I would be responsible,” Huy said.

He recalled being hauled into a meeting on account of a missing prisoner.

“That prisoner fled while he was tied to a rope and I was blamed [due to] the disappearance of that prisoner,” he said.

The only time he was set to transport people from the re-education camp at Prey Sar to be executed, he said, the vehicle over-turned before he had a chance to collect the prisoners.

After the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, Huy was transferred to the naval forces – an ill-fitting move, he said, since he was afraid of crocodiles and unable to swim.

He was then set to work harvesting rice before being transferred again in 1976, this time to S-21, arriving by bicycle under cover of nightfall.

Huy took the stand after former S-21 medic Makk Sithim testified he carried individual prisoners out for burial after they died.

“Every three or four days . . . I would see a prisoner die,” Sithim said.

While he did not witness cases of blood-drawing from inmates, Sithim said he was “terrified” when he found sacks of blood stashed under a staircase.


  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon