Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch denied on Tuesday any killings by his own hand, but admitted to ordering the deaths of prisoners at a small jungle camp in the west of the country and at Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, as he continued his ground-breaking trial at the special tribunal court.
Duch’s administration of the Kampong Speu provincial detention camp, called M-13, served as a model for his role as chief at Tuol Sleng prison, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, where 16,000 Cambodians were tortured ahead of their execution, he told judges of the tribunal’s Trial Chamber.
“I did not kill [prisoners] by myself, I did not commit this,” he said. “But all orders [to kill prisoners] in M-13 came from me.”
He also said he had only ordered killings at S-21.
Duch, 66, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is facing charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, as director of Tuol Sleng and Prey Sar prisons, as well as the execution site of Choeung Ek.
Few lived through Tuol Sleng, which became a repository for those considered enemies of the revolution, and in earlier trial sessions Duch apologized to the families of his victims and to survivors.
On Tuesday, he directly apologized to survivor Chhum Mey, who has been an ardent follower of the trial. Duch said Tuesday he had released only 10 prisoners from S-21.
The trial proceedings of Monday and Tuesday offered a look into the earlier prison camp, M-13, where the main torture method was to beat prisoners into forced confessions. Among torture methods at M-13, he said, prisoners would be dunked into water or left outside to be chilled by the cold.
Duch became chief of M-13, in Tpong district, Kampong Speu province, in July 1971, as the Khmer Rouge were growing in power in Cambodia’s countryside. He left M-13 prior to the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh in April 1975. He became the chief of S-21 in 1976.