The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, or “Comrade Duch” as the wicked-but-apparently-repentant jailer of Pol Pot’s regime is nicknamed, continues with a finding from the war crimes court that his 10-year detainment before trial violated his rights. But the seemingly forthright, brutal testimony continues:
Duch said there “was a bad smell” in Tuol Sleng and told judges he felt shame when he remembered the abuse of prisoners.
However, he added that he avoided the holding area because he did not want inmates — most of whom were fellow Khmer Rouge cadres — to recognise him.
“Those people who were there and were being mistreated were people who I knew before. So I would be shocked if I could see them,” Duch said.
“I closed my eyes, closed my ears. I did not want to see the real situation… You could say I even betrayed my friends. That was beyond cowardice,” he added.
Shown a list of children executed at his prison on suspicion of espionage, Duch told the court many more undocumented children were killed after they had accompanied their parents to Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21.
“Most of the women at S-21 were arrested because their husbands were arrested,” Duch said.
“The children were separated from their mothers and those children were smashed. Because they needed the mothers to be separated so they could be interrogated, those children were smashed,” he added.
“Smashed” was a word commonly used by top Khmer Rouge officials to eliminate even those under the slightest suspicion of disloyalty, but as you can see even those who were no threat at all were killed. I’m sure some will disagree, but this period and place represent a time where the only explanation can be is that demonic forces took control.