Westerner Identities in Tuol Sleng Photos Remain Unconfirmed
The two photographs are part of a collection of more than 1,400 images anonymously donated to the center last month.
PHNOM PENH — The identities of two Westerners whose images were found amid some 1,400 photographs from Tuol Sleng prison remain unconfirmed, researchers at the Documentation Center of Cambodia said.
Two researchers from the center showed the photographs to Kaing Kek Iev, the former head of Tuol Sleng better known as Duch, who is serving a life sentence for atrocity crimes at the UN-backed tribunal, but he was unable or unwilling to say who they were.
“I do not know clearly whether he does not remember or he does not want to reveal [their names],” Eng Kok Thay, the center’s deputy director, told VOA Khmer in an interview Thursday.
The two photographs are part of a collection of more than 1,400 images anonymously donated to the center last month. The victims depicted in the collection were inmates held at Tuol Sleng, known as S-21 to the Khmer Rouge, from 1975 to 79.
The back of each photograph contains handwritten information on each prisoner, but the two Westerners are not named. Only about 11 Westerners were detained at the prison under the regime.
The two men are thought to be Frenchman Andre Courtigne and American Cristopher Delance. Researchers had thought Duch could confirm the identities, but he told them he could not recall them because there had been so many prisoners under his control.
Eng Kok Thay said it was possible Duch was afraid of further incriminating himself by identifying the two men.
“So it partly serves his interest when he says he does not recognize” them, he said. “Even though he is in prison now, he is trying to maintain his reputation for the future.”