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At Jungle Prison, Duch Tortured, Murdered: Guard

A man claiming to be a former Khmer Rouge guard at M-13 prison told judges that Duch also tortured prisoners, as trial proceedings continued Monday.

The purported guard, Chan Voeun, said Duch, who is facing numerous atrocity crimes charges, had shot his uncle and lit fire to the breast of a female inmate at M-13, the Kampong Speu provincial prison he ran before he was chief of Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.

Judges are considering the behavior of Duch at M-13 as reference to acts later carried out at Tuol Sleng, as prosecutors continued to build a case against him. Now 66, Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is the first to be tried by the UN-backed court.

“I saw him hang prisoners, beat them, and I saw my uncle fall down and die after [Duch] shot him,” Chan Voeun said Monday. “I saw Duch holding in his hand a gun. He put a torch to burn the breast of a woman prisoner. She died at the prison.”

In his defense Monday, Duch said Chan Voeun had not been a guard at the prison and that his testimony was a fabrication. However, Duch did recognize some testimony of Chan Voeun, that villagers from the commune of Am Laing, near the prison, were arrested and put in M-13 and later killed.

Chan Voeun, 56, told judges he worked for Duch at M-13 from 1974 to 1975, and that there were around 70 people from the village.

Duch said he remembered the prisoners, but he said the number was “not 70.” However many there were, they were killed, which he regretted, Duch said.

Other witnesses at Duch’s trial have said that five to 10 prisoners died each day at M-13. However, Duch has said that only between 200 and 300 prisoners were killed at the prison.

Chan Voeun said that on one occasion he passed the cells of prisoners and counted 10 people, but when he returned later, there only four or five remained.

Duch’s trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday and Wednesday, when judges are expected to look closer at Duch’s role at Tuol Sleng, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, where prosecutors say at least 12,380 people were tortured and sent to their deaths.