Monday, July 20, 2009

Perpetrators squawk

The testimony from Khmer Rouge cadre like Him Huy, who last week admitted to transporting thousands of prisoners from Tuol Sleng to their deaths at Choeung Ek, will continue this week. Him (pictured) will be back in the witness box today, as he relates more details in the case against the S-21 chief Comrade Duch, who is clearly still able to exert a degree of influence over some of the witnesses. Him has already confessed to killing one individual in his testimony last week, though other testimony to DC-Cam investigators in the past, suggests Him was responsible for a lot more deaths. However, minimising their role in the Khmer Rouge slaughter has been a factor for all of the former KR who've appeared at the ECCC to-date. Even Duch, who has admitted responsibility for his actions, has been choosing his words carefully and claiming he ordered his subordinates to carry out instructions from above, but didn't actually get involved in the nitty gritty of what went on in the interrogation rooms at S-21. Who is he trying to kid? I don't have a list of future witnesses though I would expect people like Nhem En, who was the chief photographer of prisoners as they arrived at S-21, and interrogator Prak Khan to be called to testify. Nhem En is hardly ever out of the news, whether he's trying to sell Pol Pot's sandals, his own cameras or begging for money for his Anlong Veng museum. Prak Khan has a much lower profile though documents from S-21 clearly show his involvement in the torture that took place and he also showed up in Rithy Panh's film about S-21, when he confessed he thought of the prisoners as 'animals.' After the dismal failure of Mam Nay as a witness last week, let's hope that this week we'll hear more accurate testimony about the inner workings of S-21 and the activities of Comrade Duch. There's paper talk today about another request being sent by investigators at the tribunal to the King Father, Norodom Sihanouk. I can't imagine that he will agree to appear at the trials, though he has begun to serialize his memoirs of his imprisonment by the KR on his official website (in French).

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Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Former S-21 guard Him Huy completed his testimony on Monday and then it was the turn of fellow guard and interrogator Prak Khan to take to the witness box. Khan has confirmed he was an interrogator at S-21 following Duch's orders and training methods. Though his testimony has been detailed, it was called into question by some of the judges as his original statements do not corroborate the evidence he is giving now, undermining his credibility.
Though this seems to have been a problem with a few of the witnesses that have been called. You can see why...its been 30 years since they were at S-21. Some of them have been involved in reconstructions in Rithy Panh's film for example or in other documentaries, they've been asked lots of the same questions before and most likely seen footage or heard testimony that over time, has merged with their own personal memories. What is fact and what is hearsay or fiction, merges into one. Its up to the judges to decide between the two.

July 22, 2009 at 1:12 PM  

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