Duch Publicly Interrogated Foreign Inmate, Witness Says

An Australian man captured at sea by the Khmer Rouge after straying into Cambodian waters was publicly interrogated by S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, before he was taken away and killed, a former interrogator told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday.

Prak Khan, 61, who interrogated prisoners at the security center in Phnom Penh where more than 12,000 people are thought to have been sent to their deaths, said Duch once interrogated David Lloyd Scott, an Australian national captured in the Gulf of Thailand by the Khmer Rouge navy in 1978.

Prak Khan testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (ECCC)
Prak Khan testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (ECCC)

Mr. Khan denied interrogating any foreigners at S-21 himself but described seeing Vietnamese, Australian and American citizens inside the prison. Asked who was responsible for interrogating the foreigners, he singled out Duch—who became the first Khmer Rouge official to be found guilty at the tribunal in 2010—and chief interrogator Mam Nai, better known as Chan.

“Duch and Chan interrogated those prisoners in a public venue in the compound of the prison. That venue would be seen by everyone walking past,” Mr. Khan said.

“No one had the command of English so only Chan and Duch could interrogate those foreign prisoners,” he said.

Of the foreign detainees he saw enter the prison, Mr. Khan said he only knew the name of David Scott.

“In relation to American and Australian prisoners, I could recognize one foreign prisoner. The name was displayed on his shirt: David Scott,” he said, adding that he had seen the prison chief kicking the Australian national.

Asked about the fate of David Scott and an American inmate he had mentioned, Mr. Khan said he had been told they were burned at a former church near S-21.

“I learned from Koeu, the security guard at S-21, that the American and Australian prisoners were burned at the road leading from Wat Mohamontrey to Wat Tuol Tompoung…and that location was a former Christian church,” he said.

“No one lived there at that church. Only the security guards were there and the two prisoners were put on the middle of the road and the used tires were placed on them and after that they were burned.”

Elaborating on testimony he gave on Wednesday, Mr. Khan described witnessing the prison’s medic extract large amounts of blood from prisoners, leading them to collapse and die.

“After the blood had been drawn, they removed the tube, and prisoners were thrown to a corner of the room and they were piled up there, then they were placed on a cart and they were taken away on that cart to be buried,” he said.

The former interrogator said he had not witnessed the burial of the prisoners firsthand but saw fresh dirt the next morning that he believed indicated the location of newly dug pits.

Asked how he felt about watching the blood extraction, Mr. Khan said he had been shocked but had to suppress his emotion.

“During the regime, I knew what was right and what was wrong, and I did not dare to say anything to anyone or to speak about it because during the regime anyone who opposed would be dead,” he said.

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