A former medic at Phnom Penh’s S-21 security center told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday that he had provided treatment to inmates who passed out from electric shocks or had their fingernails and toenails ripped out.
Makk Thim, 54, told the court that he rarely treated prisoners for “serious” injuries at the notorious prison—where more than 12,000 people are thought to have been sent to their deaths—but conceded that the injuries were the result of violent interrogations.
“That prisoner told me that the interrogator used the plier[s] to pull out the nails from the fingers and from the toes,” Mr. Thim said of one inmate.
“They underwent a great suffering. Nothing could be compared to the treatment of pulling off their nails. They were beaten up, their nails had been removed and no matter what happened, I had to treat them,” he told the court later in the day.
Despite initially claiming that he had never tended to prisoners who fainted after being shocked with electricity during interrogation sessions, Mr. Thim backtracked when presented with a contradictory statement he had given in the past.
“The interview happened several years ago. I may have forgotten some of the words that I [said] at the time. Yes, prisoners had been electrocuted,” he said.
“Actually, perhaps those prisoners may have fainted at the interrogation room and those prisoners were walked to the room where I treated,” he said, adding that he administered only B1 and B12 vitamins in those cases, while treating other patients with salt water or a red, antibiotic liquid.
Despite serving as a medic for the Khmer Rouge, Mr. Thim told the court that he had also considered himself a prisoner of the Pol Pot regime.
“At the time, I considered myself a supposed prisoner as well, so we were in the same situation,” he said.