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Duch to Testify Against Former Leaders

Former Khmer Rouge S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch (C) greets the court during his appeal hearing at the Court Room of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, file photo.

Khmer Rouge chief executioner Kaing Kek Iev, alias Duch, will be a key witness to testify against the three surviving senior leaders in case 002 at the UN-assisted Cambodian tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders.

Tribunal Judge Nil Non said in a statement issued late Tuesday that Duch will be testifying about administrative systems overseen by defendants Ieng Sary, Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan during their 1975 to 1979 rule of Cambodia. An estimated 1.7 million people died during the Democratic Kampuchea regime through overwork, starvation, disease and execution.

“Many of the documents the prosecutor used to lay charges against the accused in case 002 are based on Duch’s confession,” said Neth Pheaktra, a spokesman for the tribunal, formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. “His testimony is very crucial.”

Duch has been sentenced to life in jail for his role as the S-21 prison director where more than 12,380 prisoners were interrogated, tortured and later killed.

In his confession during a hearing in March 2009, Duch said he reported to brother number two Nuon Chea, the regime’s chief ideologue. Duch said it was Noun Chea who ordered him to take all prisoners to be executed at Choeung Ek, known as the Killing Field.

“He (Duch) was a connector who links local level to the top leaders,” said Chhang Youk, director of Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has gathered evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities for more than 15 years.

The next stage of the hearing, scheduled to resume March 12, is set to review Khmer Rouge administrative structures, according to Nil Non’s statement.