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Duch Expert Describes Khmer Rouge Disarray

A US Khmer Rouge researcher told tribunal judges Wednesday the regime’s ministries were not well organized and decisions were made instead by the standing committee of the communist party.

Craig Etcheson, the first foreign expert to be called in the trial of Duch, head of the regime’s notorious Tuol Sleng prison, described an administrative organization in disarray, saying the ministries “were not really ministries.”

Tribunal judges are trying to form a picture of the organization, under which up to 2 million people died. Prosecutors say Duch was responsible for the torture and execution of more than 12,000 of them.

“The ministries did not work as they were,” said Etcheson, author of “The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea. “

Etcheson went on to say that power was in the hands of individuals who had positions in the regime’s communist party. He did not elaborate.

Duch has said all power was in the hands of the standing committee, telling judges that there was no law except that of the party. He has sought to portray himself as a victim of the regime and dedicated revolutionary. But he has also said that those who did not follow the regime perished.

Now 66, Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, began his atrocity crimes trial March 30. He is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, for his role as the head of Tuol Sleng, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, and other facilities.