Pol Pot and fellow members of the innermost circle of Khmer Rouge leaders received daily accounts of interrogation at S-21 prison, and so-called “confessions” extracted under torture were circulated among them, former S-21 chairman Kaing Guek Eav told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Monday.
The accused, best known as Duch, also told the court that members of his own staff at S-21 were purged and killed based largely on his own reporting to his superiors.
However, a now-famous list of rules for interrogation, currently on display at Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sleng genocide museum, was in fact invented by Vietnamese forces, Duch told the court.
Long considered crucial evidence to demonstrate senior Khmer Rouge leaders’ awareness of the regime’s crimes and their alleged participation in them, the confessions were the most important work of the secret police under Duch’s command at the prison.
He told the court Monday that he reported every day on the confessions to Defense Minister Son Sen, who was killed in 1997, and later Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, and circulated them among all members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea’s Standing Committee.
By 1975 the Standing Committee also included fellow detainees Ieng Sary, the regime’s foreign minister, and Mr Nuon Chea.
The possibility of using the S-21 confessions in court has long been considered controversial, as evidence extracted under torture is generally inadmissible.
“The first step was to report to Son Sen,” Duch said, using an overhead projector to allow judges to examine the Sept 2, 1977, confession of a person named Long Muy, suspected of having contact with supposed “Chinese networks.”
“This document indicates that I, the chairman of S-21, reported directly to the superior, to Son Sen. And from Son Sen to Pol Pot, then Pol Pot asked Son Sen to contact the east,” said Duch, referring to the regime’s Eastern Zone.
Similarly, the confession of a Khmer Rouge ambassador to Laos, who was suspected of conspiring with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to allow Cambodians to escape Cambodia, was reported to Nuon Chea.
“I took this document to report to Uncle Nuon. It was no longer Son Sen, because he left for the battlefield,” Duch said.
Though Duch has claimed that in overseeing the destruction of as many as 14,000 people he was only carrying out orders, he told the court Monday that the information he passed to his superiors was influential in the decisions to eliminate suspected enemies of the regime.
Such was the case of members of division 703, who became staff members at S-21 but were later purged at the prison.
“If they were perceived to be confronting us, then they would be in trouble, so people who were from division 703 who we perceived as confronting or challenging the task were people who were very proud, and, two, they liked to show off,” Duch said.
“We are part in this crimes for sure. We did not educate them to be determined in their work, but we were so quick to report their wrongdoings,” he added.
As the trial reconvened Monday morning, Duch also told the court that rules long thought to have been displayed during interrogation at the prison did not exist during his time at S-21.
Duch said he saw the rules for the first time in February of last year during a reconstruction of events at S-21.
“The police regulation did not belong to S-21,” he said. “It is fabricated by the Vietnamese troops. Those 10 rules, I objected.”
Cambodian Deputy Co-Prosecutor Tan Senarong sought to ask Duch for clarification of the rules but was silenced by Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn.
Prosecutors are expected to begin their questioning of the accused today.