Entering the third day of his trial, Duch agreed to accept all the charges against him as chief of Tuol Sleng prison, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, as prosecutors read through their entire indictment.
Duch’s indictment includes 260 crimes committed when he was head of S-21, the nearby prison of Prey Sar, and the Choeng Ek execution ground, where as many as 16,000 Cambodians were killed and dumped into mass graves.
All of them relate to charges he faces for war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder.
Duch, 66, spent nearly three hours before Trial Chamber judges, reading along as prosecutor Robert Petit announced the charges against him. Step by step, Duch agreed through his lawyers to every charge.
He disagreed with only one phrase. He requested that the words “Tuol Sleng” be removed from the terminology. The prison was called S-21 when he was its director, he said, and was only called Tuol Sleng after the regime fell.
Aside from that, Duch had no disagreements with any of the indictments, and his acceptance of responsibility for each crime was well met by those who had come to see the trial.
“The confession to the crimes and acceptance of the indictment by Duch is the right thing,
Ouy Poch, 39, who watched the proceedings Wednesay, said.
This was the first time he heard Khmer Rouge cadre publicly accept responsibility for individual crimes, he said.
“Duch expressed loyalty for the court, for the witnesses and the souls of the dead in Tuol Sleng, but it is not enough for Duch,” he said. “The court should punish him according to the law.”
Var Reena, 45, said Duch’s case was important for “all the Cambodian people.”
“Especially, he knows his mistakes, and his taking responsibility for his mistakes is not a bad thing,” she said.
On April 6, Duch will face questions from prosecutors and judges.