Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - S-21 deputy denies torture

S-21 deputy denies torture

S-21 deputy denies torture

090715_02
Journalists record former Tuol Sleng deputy Mam Nai as he testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Monday. His testimony continued Tuesday.

Amid concerns about self-incrimination, a senior interrogator at Tuol Sleng says he did not understand how the prison worked.

AFORMER deputy chief at Tuol Sleng prison downplayed his role at the notorious detention facility Tuesday, telling Cambodia's war crimes court that he never tortured prisoners, prompting judges to accuse him of having "no fear".

Mam Nai, 76, said he had "no knowledge" at the time of the fate that awaited prisoners at Tuol Sleng, a stance he maintained even after being read grisly testimony from his former boss and shown forced confessions that he had apparently signed.

"I was just a plain and simple interrogating cadre," Mam Nai, wearing fingerless gloves and a krama, told judges.

"I only interrogated prisoners without applying torture. It was my belief that applying torture would lead to untrue confessions," he said.

Mam Nai told the court he had worked with his former boss, prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, at the M-13 detention centre in Kampong Speu, where the ex-jailer first taught him how to interrogate.

He said he had "no knowledge" of Tuol Sleng's organisational structure because he worked in an interrogation house separate from the prison.

His repeated denials prompted judges to question, at various points in his testimony, whether he suffered from memory, vision and hearing problems.

Mam Nai said he had fallen from his house once, which he said had affected his memory.

After reading out an extensive list of Mam Nai's academic achievements, Judge Sylvia Cartwright asked why one of the most intelligent people at Tuol Sleng was not aware of how the prison worked.

"In principle ... I was only mindful about my duties," Mam Nai said. He said he had not known that all Tuol Sleng prisoners were presumed guilty, and he told Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne that his only regret was "that [Cambodia] was invaded" by America and Vietnam.

Lavergne then asked if he knew what the words "no fear" meant in English, and Mam Nai responded that he did not.

"In that case, I have no further questions," Lavergne replied.

Witness receives lawyer
Mam Nai's testimony came amid an ongoing row at the court over self-incrimination.

After Duch's defence lawyers argued Monday that Mam Nai could be prosecuted if a legal doctrine being pushed by the prosecution were applied, lawyer Kong Sam Onn was assigned to act as his legal adviser. But the lawyer admitted Tuesday that he was unclear of his role.

Kong Sam Onn defected to the ruling Cambodian People's Party earlier this month after facing disciplinary action by the Bar Association for his representation of SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua.

Co-counsel Francois Roux again urged the prosecution to question whether it was necessary to push for a legal amendment, known as joint criminal enterprise, that he said would make it more likely for subordinates such as Mam Nai to be prosecuted.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Government deports 235 Chinese scammers

    THE Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior on Thursday deported 235 Chinese nationals, 35 of whom were female, via the Phnom Penh International Airport for their part in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) online money extortion scam. The deportees were arrested on November 26 over the

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • International buyers snap up new locally produced watch

    A Cambodian entrepreneur has launched a stylish high-end watch, hoping to promote the Khmer creative talent and increase demand for the Kingdom’s products abroad. Designer Seth Pitu launched his brand PU a mere 60 days ago, and hopes to combine traditional Khmer art with sleek