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Painter Outlines Paranoia During Khmer Rouge

As a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders comes closer to fruition, the destructive paranoia of the regime again will be highlighted, an artist who survived imprisonment under the regime said Monday.

Prisoners were interrogated with three questions, said Van Nath, who survived Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh. "Are you CIA?" "Are you KGB?" "Are you a Vietnamese spy?"

"I was an ordinary painter from Battambang," Van Nath said, on "Hello VOA." "How can I answer that kind of question?"

The questions were nothing more than preludes to confession under torture, then execution.

"If there were no orders from the top, they could not do this," he said, referring to the top leaders of the Khmer Rouge, who will likely face trial under a joint UN-Cambodia tribunal.

Joint prosecutors last week handed a confidential name of five suspects to tribunal investigators, but likely suspects like Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's chief lieutenant, say they had nothing to do with the killings that occurred between 1975 and 1979.

Van Nath called these claims "unbelievable." Van Nath said he would be willing to testify against Duch, the head of Tuol Sleng, who remains the only former Khmer Rouge cadre in custody.