Revolution Meant Killing, Duch Says
Original report from Phnom Penh
08 April 2009
As his trial moved through its second week Wednesday, prison chief Duch said told tribunal judges the Khmer Rouge revolution had meant killing, even if young revolutionaries were not aware of it.
Duch, who was the head of Tuol Sleng prison while the Khmer Rouge was in power, also commanded a small jungle prison in Kampong Speu province, known as M-13, as the communist guerrillas rose to power in the countryside.
Duch said he would invite the rural poor and the young to join with him in the revolution. “And what was revolution work at the time? It was killing,” he said.
After Duch spoke Wednesday, a former French diplomat who was once held in M-13 defended his captor, saying Duch had been trapped in the Khmer Rouge revolution and could not have turned back.
Francois Bizot, whose book, “The Gate,” in part outlines his three months at a jungle prison known as M-13, in Kampong Speu province, in 1971, was the first witness to appear at a tribunal trial.
“The revolution was for the independence of Cambodia, on behalf of the Cambodian people, to eradicate poverty, and they had hope for the future,” Bizot said.
He acknowledged that some people had been mistreated at M-13, but he also said some prisoners had been released.
They were “released from their shackles,” he told Trial Chamber judges, “because they respected the conditions of detention and they did not resist or protest.”
Duch, 66, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, as commander of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison, where up to 16,000 Cambodians were sent to be tortured into confessions and later executed in “killing fields” outside Phnom Penh.
Five leaders of the regime are now facing atrocity crimes charges at the tribunal. Duch’s trial is the first, and as it continued into its second week Wednesday, the former prison chief admitted to recruiting young peasants to join the revolution.