Accessibility links

Breaking News

Nuon Chea Ordered Torture of Prisoners, Duch Tells Tribunal

Paintings by human rights icon and artists Vann Nath depicting how torture devices were used hang on the walls of Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 2011.

Testifying for a seventh day before the Khmer Rouge tribunal, convicted prison chief Duch said he was ordered to torture prisoners by Nuon Chea, the regime’s chief ideologue, who is on trial for atrocity crimes.

Duch said Pol Pot, the leader of the secretive regime, told him not to use torture as an interrogation measure, as more and more suspected spies and informants were brought to the prison he ran, S-21.

Three days later, Nuon Chea ordered him to extract confessions under torture, Duch said.

Duch is helping prosecutors describe the inner workings of the regime as they seek to tie three suspects—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Sary—to atrocity crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge under their leadership.

Duch said Nuon Chea also ordered him to execute all remaining prisoners at S-21 as Vietnamese-led forces ousted the Khmer Rouge from the power and pushed them out of the capital.

“He said, ‘Comrade, clear them out,’” Duch quoted Noun Chea as saying. Duch said that he asked to spare the lives of four prisoners, but those prisoners were later killed by other prison cadre as Vietnamese troops reached Phnom Penh.

In contrast to the details Duch has provided on Nuon Chea’s role in the Khmer Rouge, Duch told the court Thursday he knew little of Ieng Sary’s work and had seen him only twice during the reign of the regime.