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Third Survivor Takes Stand in Duch Trial

Continuing a week of survivor testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Bou Meng, who lived through Duch’s infamous Tuol Sleng killing machine, described to the court Wednesday suffering and torture as an inmate.

Bou Meng and his wife were taken as they planted vegetables at Talay village, in Kandal province in mid-1977 and sent to Tuol Sleng.

Bou Meng told the court that Khmer Rouge security guards arrived in a car, telling them they were needed to teach students at the School of Fine Arts.

“I felt much satisfaction with that news,” he recalled.

That satisfaction soon turned to suffering, as the two were brought to Tuol Sleng.

Bou Meng, now 68, choked with tears in the court on Wednesday, recalling his time in the prison, where prosecutors say Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, sent 12,380 people to their deaths, following confessions coerced through torture.

Bou Meng and his wife were handcuffed and blindfolded and taken to a cell within the prison, where Bou Meng was then beaten with a cane, made perhaps of rattan or bamboo, and was electrocuted.

“Each of the five interrogators beat me until he was exhausted,” Bou Meng said.

Bou Meng developed gangrene on his back, which hurt worse than his beatings and left behind scars he showed tribunal judges. “The treatment of my gangrene was without medicine,” he said. “Only salt water covered my gangrene.”

Guards at the prison, known to the Khmer Rogue as S-21, would beat the inmates and interrogate them twice a day, from 7 am to noon or 1 pm, and again from 2 pm to 7 pm, he said.

“All the inmates in S-21 prison looked like ghosts, because they had long hair, deep-set eyes and were very thin,” he said. “They looked like ghosts in the real world.”

Duch, who is now 66 and faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, for his role at the prison, sat silently through Bou Meng’s testimony.

He has already admitted to orchestrating torture and killings, and has apologized to victims and their families. Now a Christian, he has sought forgiveness, and he has never admitted to doing any killing himself.

Bou Meng said Wednesday he hoped the tribunal could find at least some justice for him.

“If I cannot receive 100 percent justice, I can receive between 50 percent and 60 percent,” he said.