Duch's Re-Enactment of Crimes
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia (AFP) — Detained Khmer Rouge jailer Duch, who faces trial over Cambodia's 1970s genocide, was taken Tuesday to the regime's most notorious killing field to re-enact his alleged crimes for a UN-backed court.
Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, last visited the Choeung Ek execution site outside the capital Phnom Penh nearly 30 years ago, while he oversaw the Khmer Rouge's Tuol Sleng prison.
The prison was the Khmer Rouge's main torture centre, where some 16,000 men, women and children were brutalised before being murdered during the regime's repeated purges of its ranks.
Most of those killed at the prison were buried at Choeung Ek, which is now a macabre tourist attraction. Duch, who has not denied his role at Tuol Sleng, is expected to walk the court officials through his actions.
The reconstruction of his actions before court officials and a number of witnesses, believed to include Tuol Sleng survivors, was a normal part of the genocide tribunal's investigation, court officials said.
Tuesday's re-enactment and a similar reconstruction of Duch's actions Wednesday at Tuol Sleng are not open to the public but are being recorded and could eventually be released, the officials said.
The tribunal, which convened in July 2006, is investigating the atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule over Cambodia ahead of public trials expected to start this year.
Duch was seized by Cambodian authorities in 1999 and held at a military prison until his transfer to the UN-backed tribunal on July 31.
He is one of five former top cadres detained so far by the tribunal, and has been charged with crimes against humanity.
Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed by the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its effort to forge a radical agrarian utopia.
Cities were emptied and their populations exiled to vast collective farms, while schools were closed, religion banned and the educated classes targeted for extermination.
Chea Thoy, who since 1999 has lived only a few hundred metres from Choeung Ek said the re-enactment would benefit young Cambodians who were born after the regime.
"This re-enactment will preserve what happened so that it will not be lost. We can keep it for the young people," said the 60-year-old, who lost 13 relatives including a husband under the Khmer Rouge.
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