A former prison guard at the Kraing Ta Chan prison in Takeo province told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday that accusations made by a former inmate earlier this month, including claims that he was involved in atrocities such as the rape of women with rifles, were fabricated.
Srei Than, 57, better known by the alias “Duch,” was accused by civil party Soy Sen, a prisoner in the Tram Kak district security center between 1974 and 1979, of being among the “cruelest” of guards, responsible for sexual violence and smashing babies against trees.
Asked by Victor Koppe, defense counsel for Pol Pot’s former deputy Nuon Chea—who is on trial in the second phase of Case 002 alongside former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan—about a number of accusations made by Mr. Sen, including that he raped and murdered a number of women, the witness denied everything.
“I cannot respond to that question,” Mr. Than said.
Asked by Mr. Koppe why he could not give an answer, the witness said it was because he “did not do it.”
“As you are aware during the Khmer Rouge period somebody who committed sexual rape would not be spared, so rape was prohibited. For that reason, the rape story is a fabricated one,” he said.
Mr. Than added that he did not know why Mr. Sen, who now lives just 2 km from him in Tram Kak district, would lie about such crimes.
Mr. Than—who joined the Khmer Rouge in 1973 and was transferred three years later to Kraing Ta Chan, where he was made a typist—claimed he was not involved in the interrogation of inmates. He said he would merely “lend a hand” to prison chiefs Ta An and “Big Duch” by typing up handwritten confessions.
Despite claiming not to have been involved in the torture and killing of inmates inside Kraing Ta Chan, Mr. Than called the period a “bitter experience.”
“For the rest of my life…I do not want to recall or remember for my younger generation…. I could say that it is a bad regret in my life,” he said.
When Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne asked Mr. Than to elaborate on what he regretted from his time in the security center, the witness said he was sorry he was unable to recall some of his experiences.
“At that time, I was young and I do not remember…the activities or any bad things that happened…I don’t remember everything and that’s why I feel hopeless in myself,” he said.
Mr. Than’s testimony continues Tuesday.