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Former Child Nurse Testifies in Duch Trial

A former child nurse at Duch’s notorious Khmer Rouge prison told a UN-backed court Monday he had been asked to treat prisoners even though he had no medical training and was in fact illiterate.

“Most of the detainees were not sick,” said Sek Dan, he was 11 years old when he was tasked as a medic at the prison, Tuol Sleng, brought in from his home province of Kampong Cham. “I cured them of all kinds of wounds caused by torture I can’t explain.”

Several hundred of Tuol Sleng’s prisoners died of illness, said Sek Dan, who was one of four child medics.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is undergoing an atrocity crimes trial for his role as head of the prison and other Khmer Rouge facilities. Prosecutors say he is responsible for the deaths of 12,380 people.

“I never learned medicine,” Sek Dan, now 48, told the court. “I followed the elders and they told me to give medicine to this one or that one.”

Prisoners “were wounded by torture in the back, on the nails of their hands and in their legs,” he said.

Duch said he recognized that children were used as Tuol Sleng staff, but he said Sek Dan’s confession was “unclear.”