Convicted torture chief Duch told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday that the former monarch, Norodom Sihanouk, supported nominal head of the movement Khieu Samphan and the regime when it most needed international support.
Sihanouk was ousted in a coup on 1970 and called a coalition in support for the Khmer Rouge and others while in exile, helping bolster the movement that would take over the country five years later.
His role in the rise of the Khmer Rouge has not so far been closely examined by the court, and he has never given testimony.
Khieu Samphan is on trial at the UN-backed court for atrocity crimes, alongside Nuon Chea, the regime’s No. 2 ideologue, and Ieng Sary, its foreign minister.
“Sihanouk himself had confidence in Khieu Samphan and compared Khieu Samphan to a Buddha,” Duch told the court Wednesday. “A person most faithful.”
Duch, who has been helping prosecutors explain the workings of the secretive regime, told the court that Khieu Samphan had a role as a commander of the Khmer Rouge armed forced, “but just a nominal position.”
“This person cannot command soldiers,” Duch said.