Former Guard Describes S-21 Execution Sites

As many as 100 prisoners were executed outside Phnom Penh’s S-21 security center every week before the murderous operation was transferred to the Choeung Ek killing fields, a former guard told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Born in 1955, Him Huy told the court that he had witnessed prisoners being led to an empty patch of land to the west of the one-time high school, where they were executed and buried in pits.

Him Huy testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh yesterday. (ECCC)
Him Huy testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh yesterday. (ECCC)

“At that time, there were no houses there. It was an open space, so pits were dug to bury the killed prisoners,” Mr. Him said, adding that nighttime executions were also carried out about 100 meters south of the prison compound, now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

Asked whether his guard unit—which he said had been tasked with patrolling the perimeter of S-21—had executed anyone, the witness declined to answer the question on the advice of his council. Instead, he simply stated that all executions were carried out by the unit tasked with guarding the prisoners.

Testifying at the tribunal two weeks ago, former Choeung Ek guard Tay Teng said he and other members of his unit dug burial pits and took part in executions on the orders of Mr. Huy, who he claimed also oversaw the transfer of prisoners there from S-21.

Mr. Huy confirmed yesterday that “Brother Teng” had been in charge of nine men at the killing fields but was not questioned about the allegation that he ordered the Choeung Ek guard to execute prisoners.

Yesterday also concluded the testimony of former S-21 medic Makk Thim.

On Monday, Mr. Thim told the court he had provided treatment to prisoners who were beaten during interrogations until they bled and others who had their fingernails and toenails ripped out.

Yesterday, he said he treated victims of the latter form of torture on a regular basis.

“I witnessed [nail pulling] once every half month or month,” Mr. Thim said, going on to recall only a handful of cases in which he dressed open wounds between early 1978 and the Vietnamese invasion in January 1979.

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