In response to Khmer Rouge tribunal judges Thursday, jailed prison chief Duch outlined his role at Tuol Sleng, the chief torture center for the regime, claiming he was in charge of verifying confessions of inmates and investigating enemies of Angkar, the Organization, based on the confessions.
“As I was director, I had an important role, and in this hierarchy was deeply rooted in criminality” compared to other prisons, he said.
Prosecutors say more than 12,000 Cambodians were forced into confessions through torture before being sent to their deaths at Tuol Sleng.
Duch’s testimony on Thursday highlighted his other roles at the prison, giving a picture of how the regime turned in on itself and became a killing machine.
“And then, the records of confession that I submitted to [superiors] would have to have links with several people” not yet arrested, or allow for the arrests of new people, he said. “We made links to people who had been in liberty.”
“All reports and confessions of victims obtained through torture, I underlined and submitted to my chief,” he said, referring to Son Sen, the head of the Khmer Rouge secret police.
Duch, 66, who is facing atrocity crimes charges for his role as chief of Tuol Sleng, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, was appointed in March 1976 to run the site.
He told judges he was also in charge of training young cadre in the interrogation of prisoners.
“My men who had the proper mind, we educated them and made them decisive in torturing and decisive in interrogation,” he said. “This was my job.”
All Khmer Rouge prisons had a role to detain, torture, interrogate and “to destroy” people, he said.