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'I betrayed friends,' says S-21 chief

'I betrayed friends,' says S-21 chief

Former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, told Cambodia's war crimes court Thursday that he made a conscious effort to ignore friends and colleagues who were sent to the torture facility, an act he said was tantamount to betrayal.

"I would like to reiterate that my friends who were arrested and detained at S-21 were numerous, and I had to get away from them. I betrayed friends and colleagues," he said.

"I had to pretend not to see them because I did not want to face them."

He went on to say that all detainees at the prison were considered enemies and were doomed to be executed.

Duch's comments came in response to the testimony of Chum Sirath, 68, a civil party who said his brother, Chum Narith, had studied with the prison chief in 1968. Chum Narith was arrested and sent to Tuol Sleng in 1976.

"I have struggled constantly, every day and night, trying to forget the suffering and misery of my siblings," said Chum Sirath, who was living in Switzerland during the regime but who lost two brothers and a sister-in-law to it.

Chum Sirath also said he did not believe Duch's oft-repeated confessions and apologies were genuine, prompting Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn to assure him that the chamber would issue a "fair and just" verdict.

I have struggled constantly, every day and night, trying to forget...

"The proceedings before this chamber have been ongoing for several months, and at the end the chamber will consider all the information and evidence and then issue a judgement, which will be fair and just," Nil Nonn said.
Court spokesman Reach Sambath said Thursday that proceedings in the Duch case would conclude in late September or early October, and that a verdict would be reached in early 2010.

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